Swifts of the DAB

Swifts are categorised as Endangered in the UK, with numbers having declined by over 50% between 1995 and 2016. Swifts nest high up in nooks and crannies of buildings and are thus vulnerable to the destruction of nests when buildings are removed or altered.

The creation of artificial nesting sites is therefore an important way of supporting swift colonies, as Dick Newell explains; “there will come a time when all swifts in the UK will be in nestboxes, as all of their natural sites will have been destroyed, blocked, or otherwise made unavailable. It is therefore important that thousands of nestboxes are installed in existing and new buildings to replace those that are lost. It is thus most pleasing that swifts have shown by example the way forward in the centre of gravity of conservation in the UK, the David Attenborough Building.”

As one of the tallest buildings in Cambridge, the David Attenborough Building is well placed to host breeding swift colonies. The creation of nesting habitats for swifts was therefore one of the key objectives in plans to make the Building hospitable for wildlife. CCI worked with Dick Newell, founder of Action for Swifts, who designed and mounted nestboxes to fit behind the vertical metal bars on the sides of the East Tower.

In 2021, for the first time since the creation of these swift boxes, specially-designed for the David Attenborough Building in 2017, our boxes had fledglings! Many people tuned in to watch our live swift box webcams over the summer. This year we have added 12 new nest boxes added to the building.

Press the play button to start the videos streaming on this webpage or open YouTube to watch them there.

Our 2020 Earth Optimism Festival featured a panel discussion and Q&A session on how you can make buildings, including homes and offices, better for wildlife and the environment. The panel includes John Day, who is the RSPB’s Urban Adviser and swift expert. You can watch the session back here.

World Migratory Day 2021

held twice a year on the first Saturdays on May and October, World Migratory Bird Day, is a celebration of these amazing birds and the incredible journeys they make.

Notable sites for biodiversity in Cambridge

The University of Cambridge owns land which supports a variety of habitats, from lowland meadows to approximately 65 hectares of woodland.

The role of art in conservation

Artists inspire new ways of looking at, listening to, and engaging with science, and have an extraordinary capacity to create encounters with the natural world that are memorable. From musicians to poets, painters to dancers, collaborations between artists and scientists have the ability to transform the way we portray and undertake conservation.