Conference Press Release


Monday 7 April 2014

A Swift swoop to the region from around the globe

Bird lovers, experts and action groups from around the globe are gathering in Cambridge to debate how to reverse the decline in Swift populations.

Over 150 people from 24 countries – including America, Canada, Brazil, Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan – will meet this week for the Cambridge International Swift Conference to hear from a host of experts.

Speakers and researchers will talk about studies and work to protect swifts, including local initiatives such as a housing project in Fulbourn which helped protect East Anglia’s largest Swift colony, and the Cambridge Swift Tower.

Cambridge and the surrounding areas are a hotspot for Swift conservation activity and national organisations – particularly the RSPB – are registering the locations of all known breeding Swifts to enable planning authorities to take on board some of the measures used to mitigate where development may lose nest sites at

South Cambridgeshire District Council’s highly successful project in Fulbourn used a CD, playing calls, to help attract Swifts to new nesting sites created after a major redevelopment.

A local Cambridge group, Action for Swifts, have also implemented many successful projects in buildings such as churches and schools.

The three day conference at Parkside Community College, which runs from Tuesday to Thursday (8-10 April), will also cover topics from tracking Swifts to Africa, nest-boxing projects, Swifts in the arts, Swift welfare and rehabilitation, as well as papers on Neotropical, North American and other European species of Swifts. It includes a hands-on workshop, run by the RSPB,  for architects and planners.

The after dinner speaker at the conference is Mike McCarthy, former environmental journalist of the year from the Independent newspaper who wrote the highly regarded book 'Say Goodbye to the Cuckoo'.

Edward Mayer, director of Swift Conservation, said: "We're bringing together Swift experts and enthusiasts from across the World to make a great step forward for the conservation of these spectacular yet enigmatic birds. Screaming Swifts are the sound of Summer from Dublin to Beijing and they bring the joy and delight of Nature into the heart of our Urban environment. We must not lose them."

Dick Newell of Action for Swifts, said: "There are some 25 million homes in the UK. That works out at one pair of Swifts for every 287 homes. Surely, with a combination of efforts by the house-building industry and individuals in their own homes we can do a lot better. Few things in summer are more enthralling than a vibrant colony of Swifts in your neighbourhood."

Rob Mungovan, South Cambridgeshire District Council’s ecology officer, said: “It is great to be able to share the work we have been doing in our villages to protect and enhance the Swift population with a global audience. As a hotspot for swift conservation, we have a lot of knowledge on how we have been able to mitigate the impact of nesting sites being lost and hope the conference will provide even more insights into what else we can do for the good of the birds and future generations”.


For further information and contacts:
Conference website:
Action for Swifts website:
Swift Conservation website:
RSPB webpage:
Edward Mayer, Swift Conservation on 020 7794 2098
Dick Newell, Action for Swifts, on 07968 428781
Rob Mungovan, South Cambridgeshire District Council, on 07876 257058
Guy Belcher, Cambridge City Council, on 07795 542525
John Day, RSPB, on 01767 680551

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