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Common Swifts Conservation Project
Common swift is a breeding visitor in Eurasia and wintering bird in Africa. Breeding Common Swifts arrive in Iran in March and leave our country in July. That’s why we know them as the messenger of Spring arrival. They are marvelous flyers and could fly for almost 10 months continuously and only settle in their nest during the breeding season. They are very fast and often feed on flying insects. Swift's anatomy does not allow them to sit like usual birds and jump to fly. That’s why their nest is in a high place that they can easily soar and start flapping.
The coexistence of Common Swifts and humans may back to Romance time when there were high enough buildings that could host Common Swifts in various holes between stones in their exterior design. Recently this sustainable coexistence damage as we made a lot of changes in our constructions due to new material and technology which leave no holes in the building facades. These changes are a great achievement for humans but a big loss for birds and bats that nest in our buildings. Recent studies in some European cities showed although Common Swifts are classified as Least Concern (LC) by The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), their population is decreasing rapidly. During the last 20 years, some conservation projects have started to stop this decline by providing nest boxes for swifts which are installed on public and private buildings. Some of these nest boxes are simple and some are more developed and fitted to urban places where municipalities allow the installments and support these kind of projects.
We in Iranian Birding Club decided to start the same project in our country but since there are not enough data about Common Swifts in Iran we need to collect data by volunteers for 3-5 years. This enables us to use statistics for comparing the population of swifts and find its trend. Then We will find out if installing nest boxes is needed as a way to reduce the rate of population decline. In addition, we aim to raise public awareness about Common Swifts by creating content (text, photos, and a short video clip).
In this project, citizen science plays an important role and we have asked volunteers to fill out an online google form at least three times a week and submit their counts. The method we use is very simple as no binocular or spotting scope is needed and everyone could do counting from home. This is very important since in the case of Covid-19 lock down the project will continue. We asked volunteers to count Common Swifts during 10-15 minutes in a period of one hour before the sunset.
In the first year of this project, we published a video clip in Farsi Language in social networks and an introduction about our project in English in the Guest Blog of Ornithological Society of the Middle East, the Caucasus and Central Asia (OSME).
Here you can read more: Common Swifts in Iran – a Conservation Project