A WINCHESTER charity is launching a new exhibition at the Hampshire Record Office to highlight the decline of the swift population.

Organised by Hampshire Swifts, the exhibition will be on display from March 5 to May 2.

According to the charity, the population of the bird has declined by 70 per cent in the last 27 years in the southeast of England, with the decline continuing at up to five per cent per year.

Swifts are superb flyers, spending nearly all their lives in the air. They feed, drink, sleep and mate on the wing and only land to nest.

The birds are in the UK for only three months of the year, and when they leave the UK swifts migrate to sub-Saharan Africa between the Congo Basin and Mozambique.

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House Sparrow, Common Swift and Starling have all suffered major declines in urban areas. All have a strong association with nesting in man-made structures, especially houses in urban and suburban settings.

Hampshire Swifts campaigns to promote the conservation of the Common Swift in Hampshire by raising general awareness of the declining status of the species, identifying and protecting existing nest sites and encouraging the provision of additional nest sites across the county.

The charity does this by carrying out surveys, providing talks, and Swift walks during the summer, having stands at events, commenting on all the larger planning applications in the county, and encouraging local planning authorities to write Swift brick requirements into Local Plans.

Anyone who would like a Swift box retrofitted to their house can contact Hampshire Swifts at info@hampshireswifts.co.uk or visit the charity’s website hampshireswifts.co.uk.