100 new homes for Snowdonia’s endangered birds

Snowdonia LNP

North Wales Wildlife Trust (NWWT) and Snowdonia Local Nature Partnership (LNP) have used Welsh Government funding to try and reverse the decline in swifts and house martins in Snowdonia National Park.

High conservation concern
Swifts and house martins have recently been designated of 'high conservation concern' on the UK red list of endangered birds. Swift populations in Wales in particular have fallen by 72% since 1995.

The team at NWWT and Snowdonia LNP are aiming to combat this alarming statistic by creating nest sites and new pollinator habitats.

Funding for the scheme came from the Local Places for Nature fund, administered by the LNP Cymru project at Wales Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA).

The funding is allowing the project team to install 100 swift nest boxes, nest bricks, house martin nests and swallow alcoves across villages and towns in Snowdonia National Park.

‘We’re already seen evidence of swifts occupying boxes elsewhere, which makes us think this project will be useful,’ says Ben Stammers, Swift Project Manager at NWWT, ‘but we know it’ll take a while – they don’t just move in straight away!’

They are also addressing the issue of insect decline by planting pollinator friendly habitats near to the new nest sites to increase the availability of food for the migratory birds.

The project team used the last bit of funding to install ‘call attraction’ sound-systems at 10 nest sites in a bid to attract the birds to their potential homes.

Engaging the community of Snowdonia

The new nests are being installed mainly on buildings of public use, but residents have also contributed to the project by volunteering their homes for nest box or nest cup installation.

The team have enlisted local craftsmen to help provide tailored nest boxes for the different birds to suit the particular buildings they’ll be using.

‘With this project we wanted to be as strategic as possible,’ says Ben. ‘Rather than just buying in lots of standard nest boxes, we’ve used local people to create customised boxes for sites where we thought they’d attract more birds - maximising the efficiency of the project.’

Although the primary focus has been creating homes for endangered birds, the project is a great way of engaging the community in their local nature – with houses and schools volunteering to host nests, as well as volunteers being trained up to help survey their new neighbours.

Four ways you can help endangered birds in your area

  1. Make your garden bird friendly – for example plant native plants that attract pollinators, berry bearing shrubs, and a pond
  2. Install nest boxes / cups for swifts, swallows and house martins on or around your home
  3. Clean any bird feeders regularly – diseases like trichomonosis can be spread by contaminated food and water. If you spot a sick bird, temporarily stop putting out food and water to slow the spread of disease.
  4. Get involved with your Local Nature Partnership – a one-stop shop for local nature expertise and activities. Your Local Nature Coordinator will be full of advice on how you can get involved – there may even be an endangered bird project that you can help with!

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