The swift boxes
One of the most interesting features of the Mary Robinson Centre is the swift boxes located on its grounds.
The swift is a migratory bird that visits Ireland between late April and August each year before making their way back to Africa. They are fast fliers, hence their name, and are known for their distinctive forked tail. Swifts spend most of their lives in the air and only land to nest and raise their young. Unfortunately, swift populations have been in decline in recent years due to loss of habitat and changes in climate patterns.
According to Swift Conservation Ireland, swifts are particularly vulnerable to changes in the built environment, such as the removal of old buildings and the sealing up of gaps and crevices in newer buildings. This can leave swifts with fewer nesting sites, which can have a significant impact on their populations.
To help address this issue, The Mary Robinson Centre installed twelve swift boxes along with attraction calls on their grounds to provide safe nesting sites for swifts. The attraction calls were first switched on May 2023.
These boxes are specially designed to mimic the natural nesting sites that swifts prefer, such as the nooks and crannies of old buildings. By providing these boxes, the centre is helping to protect and promote the conservation of swift populations in the area.
The installation of these swift boxes is also an important way for the centre to promote environmental awareness and sustainable living. By encouraging the public to learn about swifts and their habitat needs, the centre is helping to foster a greater appreciation for the natural world and the need to protect it.
Several swift boxes have been installed around Mayo, including 18 in Ballina.
BALLINA NEST SITE REPORT from Swift Conservation Ireland – updated 2021
Their home is the nest site where they breed every year, and the months they spend in this place are crucial for the future of the species since they come here specifically for breeding, and this place should be regarded as their home.
Overall, the swift boxes at The Mary Robinson Centre are a small but important way that the Centre is contributing to the conservation of biodiversity and the promotion of sustainable living. They serve as a reminder of the importance of protecting our natural world and the many species that call it home.
If you would like to learn more about the swifts, check out these following videos made by Mayo Changemakers:
Many thanks to Linda Huxley and Swift Conservation Ireland for their invaluable help and advice.