Residents to turn hometown into 'swift city'

Residents have pledged to turn their hometown into a swift city by creating more nesting sites for a species of bird whose numbers are in decline in the UK.

A group of people in Lancaster have set out plans to create more wildflower areas and attract more insects to help the summer visitors flourish.

Swift numbers in the UK have fallen by 60% in the last 25 years due to habitat loss, according to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).

Alasdair Mckee from the charity said residents wanted to create a "stable future for these iconic and long-distance travellers".

A volunteer feeds a swift chick
Swift numbers in the UK have dwindled to habitat loss, the RSPB says [Reuters]

Residents, community groups and local politicians in Lancaster have signed a charter, recognised by the RSPB, which sets out their commitment to protecting the birds.

Swifts spend their winters in Africa before flying more than 3,000 miles to spend the summer in the UK.

The birds, who stay in the same mating pairs for life, like to nest in small gaps in the tops of building.

"Availability of nesting sites in the UK's towns and cities has significantly decreased with more and more nest sites in the eaves of houses having been blocked up or destroyed," Mr McKee said.

Andrew McCafferty, a local resident who grew up in Lancaster, said he remembers the "sense of wonder" he felt watching the birds "screaming through the sky".

He said he felt to "sign a charter to endorse the future of swifts in the city all whilst gazing up in awe as the birds swoop by".

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