Leeds Swifts

Help us to make Leeds the swift capital of the UK

For many of us, the aerial screaming display of the swift once represented the sound of late summer in our towns and cities. Sadly, this sound is heard no more in many of our urban areas and swifts have now been placed on the Red List of the Birds of Conservation Concern in the UK. Swift numbers have fallen by nearly 40% in the last 20 years. They need our help urgently.

Learn about the national campaign to help swifts by watching the latest RSPB film ‘Saving the Swifts‘ featuring Leeds Swifts and chick from the swift sanctuary.

What’s the problem?

Swift nesting sites are being lost on a grand scale due to modern building methods, renovation and demolition. Swifts are also affected by chaotic weather extremes while nesting and during migration. Climate change will only worsen the situation as we experience stormy summers and extremes of temperature.

How are we helping?

Leeds Swifts is part of a UK-wide network of swift volunteers promoting the plight and conservation of these amazing aerial specialists. We can provide help and advice to anyone who is thinking about

    1. protecting existing swift colonies when renovating their home
    2. providing a home for swifts by erecting nest boxes

See what is possible by looking at the Leeds Swifts colony in Gledhow on our Facebook page. You can also find us on Twitter @LeedsSwifts.

Leeds Swifts also has a Swift Sanctuary and rehabilitates grounded swift chicks and adult casualties. Please note, we only take swifts, swallows and house martins. All other injured birds need to be taken to a vet.

Contact Leeds Swifts leeds.swifts@gmail.com or download these leaflets:

What to do if you find a grounded swift

Don’t throw it in the air, don’t feed it and don’t delay!

Because swifts use tiny holes under a roof space, chicks often fall out of the nest if they get too warm or simply if they start to move around to exercise their wings. If this happens they need urgent specialist care.

Swift chicks stay in the nest for a remarkable 40-45 days depending on the abundance of insects. They are not able to fly until they are fully developed then they make their way to Africa, unaided, without ever perching. In fact, after fledging, a swift might not land again for 2-3 years. This highly developed aerial specialist needs an insectivorous diet to survive. If you find a grounded swift please follow these instructions

  1. Do not throw it into the air under any circumstances
  2. Make sure that you have correctly identified the bird – Am I a swift
  3. If you’re not in Leeds, contact Swift and Swallow SOS on Facebook to find a rehabber or browse the list of rehabbers on the Swift Conservation page
  4. Otherwise, contact Linda on 07778 768719 or Martin 07840 838764 at Leeds Swifts
  5. Please do not feed the bird at all no matter how much it begs. Grounded swifts are generally dehydrated and emaciated and can die if they are fed in this condition. Under no circumstances must you feed meat, mealworms or seed. A swift is an entirely insectivorous bird.
  6. Take a cotton wool bud and soak it in water. Try to squeeze a small amount of water into the side of its beak to help rehydrate it.
  7. Please do not put a swift in a cage. A grounded swift is unable to fly and a cage will irreparably damage its long flight feathers. Place the swift in a deep plastic container, or a shoe box, with a folded tea towel.

Hopefully we can provide the help it needs as quickly as possible and enable it to fledge successfully.

Help us to help swifts

You can help us in lots of ways

  • DONATE to our swift sanctuary on GoFundMe
  • Volunteer for Leeds Swifts – email leeds.swifts@gmail.com
  • Help us to respond to rehabbing emergencies by providing transport for grounded swifts
  • Learn how to rehabilitate grounded swifts and work in our swift sanctuary during May-September
  • Help us to make and install swift boxes
  • Learn how to survey for swift nest sites
  • Help us to arrange talks in your area
  • Builders, scaffolders and roofers: learn how to check for swifts before you work. Our swift sanctuary receives many orphaned chicks due to careless renovations or chicks starve when parents can no longer get to nests once scaffolding is erected.
  • If you work with a cherry picker or long ladders, volunteer your services and your equipment to install boxes on taller houses
  • help us to raise funds at events or via social media
  • check out the helpful pages on Swift Conservation and Action for Swifts
  • Join the UK swift local network on email http://swiftslocalnetwork@googlegroups.com

Like Leeds Swifts on Facebook Follow @LeedsSwifts on Twitter Donate to Leeds Swifts


Thanks to the artist Janis Goodman, our patron, for allowing us to use ‘Swift Arrival’ as our logo.


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