eaves nest box, a multiple version offering many nest
places, was recently set up in Frankfurt, in Germany,
and as you can see, has already been successful
in attracting Swifts to breed. Photos
© Ingolf Grabow FMI 2010
Suggestions for simple conversion and adaptation of eaves and lofts spaces to house Swifts cleanly and without fuss. By
using the principles and
dimensions of the designs below, existing eaves nest spaces can be saved, and
new ones created.
Ideally, all nest-places should be out of direct sunlight. Where nest-places within direct sunlight are being replaced, care should be taken to respect the
original dimensions, as these (for example the depth inside the eaves) may have kept the site cool enough to permit successful breeding.
Minimum nest place dimensions
are 30cm wide by 40cm long by 15 to 20cm high. A sloping roof of lesser height is acceptable as long as there is adequate
space further back for the Swifts to be able to flap their wings. The entrance hole can be any size from 30mm to 50mm round, or oval
( in which case 30mm high x 65mm wide, dimensions which
should exclude Starlings), in either the base or front
of the nest space.
loft area's ventilation and insulation should if necessary be examined and assured by experts before starting work. Ventilation can
benefits Swifts, who
often suffer from overheated nest places, but early in the season they can also
suffer from cold. These facts need to be taken into
account when converting eaves for Swifts.
Swift nest places in existing "open" eaves
Boxing in the loft space adjacent to the eaves to create a nest space just within the loft replicates the existing nesting spaces used by the Swifts, but
formalises them, making them safer from intrusion and predation. It limits the birds' access to only a small part of the loft interior, while maintaining the
loft ventilation inherent in the original design. Insulation values can be improved
by installing rigid insulation board in the Swifts nesting
space, while using fibre glass insulation outside
their nest areas, as shown below. It is vital that the
Swifts do not come into contact with any form of loose
fibre or particulate insulation material as this is
know to injure them and may prove fatal.
Designing-in Swift nest places in new eaves
This solution uses exterior quality plywood or
planks to box in the eaves, providing a base floor and internal partitions, with entrance holes drilled in the underside or
front face to give access to each nest-space. It can be easily adapted to suit
a very wide range of pitched and flat-roofed buildings,
provided they have overhanging eaves and these are 5
metres or more above ground. Basic instructions are
below, and photographs are at the top of the page.
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