Children support Edinburgh Swift Project

Published: June 14, 2021

There has been huge excitement at Harmeny over the last couple of weeks as the swifts start to reach Balerno. Will they nest in our newly created swift boxes?

Inspired by the Edinburgh Swift City Project children at Harmeny have embraced the chance to make new homes for some of Scotland’s most welcome summer visitors.

The Edinburgh Swift City Project is an initiative of the birdlife charity RSPB. Project officer Katie O’Neill has been flying the flag for swifts who, it seems, are in real need of our help.  Swifts spend an incredible ten months of the year flying non-stop, she says. “They eat, bathe, mate and even sleep on the wing! The other two months of the year, they nest and care for their chicks right here in Edinburgh and across the British Isles.”

But what if they can’t find somewhere to nest? Swift numbers are declining not only because of changes in the climate but also because many of their favoured nesting sites in older buildings are becoming blocked off during renovation work or are lost when buildings are demolished.

That’s where Harmeny’s children are coming to the rescue. Inspired by their bird-loving teacher Lesley Totten, the children have been making bird boxes to encourage swifts to nest in the grounds around their cottages. In addition, the children have donated boxes to the RSPB for use in local Edinburgh communities. “Donations of swift boxes to the project are really important and we are hugely grateful to the children at Harmeny for their support”, said Katie.

Volunteers and Harmeny supporters have all been energised by the children’s efforts. Builders’ merchants Travis Perkins donated wood and long-time woodwork volunteer Ron Smith set about creating 18 kits for the children to put together. Now they are eagerly tracking the swifts on their journey to Scotland and can’t wait to see if they take up residence in their new homes.

In folklore, it is said that the arrival of swifts in May is a symbol of hope. Following a difficult year, that’s exactly what the children of Harmeny are wishing for as they look out for their new winged neighbours.