Ribble Valley Council moves to protect nest sites of our ‘fantastic birds’ (From Lancashire Telegraph)
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Ribble Valley Council moves to protect nest sites of our ‘fantastic birds’
NESTING sites are to be protected from new developments in a bid to stop the decline of swifts and swallows.
Ribble Valley Council has joined forces with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and has become one of the first councils in England to use the planning process to protect the habitats of declining urban birds.
The UK’s swift population has declined by over a third since 1995 due to the loss of nesting sites in roof spaces.
Swifts return to the same nesting site, usually in gaps in pointing or behind fascia boards, year after year.
But their homes are being lost due to renovation work and the demolition of old buildings.
Developers in the borough will now be told that they must preserve nesting sites in existing buildings and incorporate new ones in newly built properties.
Ribble Valley Council’s countryside officer David Hewitt, said: "If there is evidence that birds of conservation concern are nesting in a building, planning conditions can be used to ensure the nests are protected and enhanced.
Similarly, the planning process can be used to ensure new developments incorporate artificial nesting sites, such as nesting bricks and external nesting boxes.
"We hope this measure will protect these fantastic birds for years to come and halt their dramatic decline."
RSPB Bowland officer Gavin Thomas said: "Swifts provide a spectacular sight scything through the summer skies and an atmospheric sonic background on summer evenings.
"Incorporating nest boxes into the fabric of new development has the potential to boost the population of these declining birds, without compromising the responsibilities or finances of developers.
"We urge other councils to follow Ribble Valley’s lead and ensure that urban environments remain wildlife-rich."
- Swifts sleep with only half of their brain shut meaning they can stay in the air all year round. They only come down for short periods to breed.
- They normally have two to three eggs in each clutch, which incubate for between 19 and 25 days.
- The oldest recorded swift reached the age of 17 years 11 months and five days.
- A group of swifts is called a scream.
- Female swallows are understood to choose to mate with males with the most symmetric tails as these are considered to be of higher quality.
- Both species eat flying insects which they catch in flight.
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