World Migratory Bird Day

8th May 2021

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

BTO have been tracking cuckoos on their migration from west Africa since 2011. A couple of weeks ago, super-migrator PJ made his fifth successful journey back to Suffolk since he was tagged – he’s traveled a total of 50,000 miles in that time! You can keep up to date on the news from the project, including PJs movements, here.

BTO have been satellite tracking cuckoos for over ten years to find out more about their migration routes. Image: Neil Calbrade

Over the past couple of weeks swifts have also been arriving back in the UK. Spending almost their whole lives on the wing, landing only to breed, they have made the journey from Africa where they over-winter. Swifts populations are suffering from a loss of nest sites, so they really benefit from nest boxes on buildings. We have some installed on our home, the David Attenborough Building in central Cambridge.

The swift boxes are located on the East Tower of the David Attenborough Building. The distinctive screaming call of swifts is played through speakers to attract the birds.

Last year we were very excited to find nesting material in one of the boxes- we think that young birds had been investigating so we hope they will come back and breed successfully this year. We have installed a camera in the box to keep an eye out for any visitors!

One of the swift boxes on the David Attenborough Building, which contains nesting material from last year. Birds are site-faithful so we hope they will return to nest- if they do we will live-stream video 

Our recent 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.