A HOUSING association has been doing its bit to help with the survival of one of our most enigmatic birds.

Yorkshire Housing has been working with a local group in Helmsley to provide homes for swifts - a species that spends much of its life in the air, only landing to nest.

The species has always relied on openings in older buildings to find a place to make their nest for when they want to raise their young, often returning to the same site year on year, making Yorkshire Housing’s older properties ideal for nesting.

However, with many of these building’s roof spaces being repaired or replaced, the swift faces something of a crisis. According to the RSPB, swifts have suffered a population decline of 38 per cent over the past 25 years, a situation which puts them on the amber list of conservation concern.

So Yorkshire Housing decided to work with local group Helmsley Swifts. Whenever Yorkshire Housing have repaired and changed roof spaces, meaning the nest site access is blocked, Helmsley Swifts have then gone in to fit a swift-friendly bird box.

Over the past few months a number of new nest boxes have been put up on Yorkshire Housing properties in Helmsley to encourage Swifts to make a home there ahead of their breeding season.

These were mainly done to Yorkshire Housing properties in Elmslac Road and Elmslac Close in Helmsley. Charlie Heap of the National Centre for Birds of Prey in Helmsley has helped put up the boxes.

Jonathan Pomroy, from Helmsley Swifts, said: “Many nests in Helmsley are located under pan tiles in the loft space and consist of material such as feathers, bud cases and pieces of grass. So when Yorkshire Housing were repairing the roof space, that meant that they would lose their nesting space.

“It is a species we are really concerned about and it would be sad if we lost this magnificent symbol of summer.

“Anything that people can do to make buildings more swift-friendly is welcome and we would like to thank Yorkshire Housing for assisting this very special bird.”

Ian Kibble from Helmsley Swifts, added: “Swifts have already been prospecting the bird boxes in Elmslac Road, so the future looks very encouraging.”