16-24 June 2018
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University of Oxford Survey of Swifts

For many years swifts have been a cherished part of Oxford’s summer, providing graceful aerial displays as they swoop among the dreaming spires.

However, for over 60 years swifts have been nesting in the ventilation flues in the Museum of Natural History’s tower here in Oxford, providing scientists with the rare opportunity to study these fascinating but elusive birds.

The University of Oxford is keen to help prevent the number of these feathered summer visitors further declining. To help this aim we are engaging the help of individuals to identify which of its buildings host nesting swifts and which areas of the University they tend to gather and fly across.

How do you spot a swift?

You don’t need to be any kind of expert to help. However, you may need some guidance identifying swifts from house martins and swallows.

The key tip is to stop, listen and look. Swifts have a piercing screaming call when in flight, live on the wing, boast a slightly forked tail and are dark sooty brown in colour – often appearing black in the sky.

One of the best ways to get a feel of what to look out for is to check out the activity around Wellington Square and the Museum of Natural History.

How can you tell us about swifts?

To record any sighting you can either download a data record sheet from our website, email us at: sustainability@oxford.ac.uk, contact us on Twitter or Facebook. The more detail you can provide the better – not only where the sighting took place but how many you saw and if you spotted it entering a building or just flying around.

This data will inform the University, and other parties, where the swifts like to frequent and help monitor numbers. It will also assist identify potential old and new University buildings to place nesting boxes and feed into the University’s Biodiversity Strategy.

Additionally, the data collected by the University will assist the work being undertaken by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) which is monitoring swift activity across the wider Oxford area. If you notice swifts in areas that not part of the University then please let the RSPB know.

Oxford welcomes visits from millions of tourists every year. Let’s do everything we can to help these special visitors from Africa keep returning.

Event Information:

Date/Time: Sat 14th June - Sun 22nd June - All Day Add to Calendar
Cost: £0
Website: https://www.admin.ox.ac.uk/media/global/wwwadminoxacuk/localsites/estatesdirectorate/documents/environment/biodiversity/Swift_form_2014.pdf
How to Book: N/A
Contact: sustainability@admin.ox.ac.uk
Target Audience: All