Ideal Sites for Swifts

Creating Swift nest places in various building types

You can create nest places for Swifts easily and cheaply in both existing and new buildings. The Swifts should find the places sooner or later (they have found places to nest in our buildings ever since the Romans came here) but chances of success are greatly enhanced if there are low-flying screaming Swifts already in the vicinity.

Click on the numbered sections below to access the relevant paragraphs:

1 Houses
2 Offices and Apartment Buildings
3 Old Commercial Buildings
4 New Warehouses and Factories
5 Multi-Storey Car Parks
6 Church Towers and Spires
7 Chimneys & Flues
8 Water Towers
9 Bridges

10 Safety & Legal Notes
11 Nest Place Supplier Links

The Church of the Sacred Heart, Readng, where we have a nestbox project in the tower    Photo Edward Mayer

 

1 Houses

Swifts may be in your house already, and here are some typical places they like to nest in. They are opportunistic nesters, any hole leading to a flat or almost flat space will do for them.

Repairs and maintenance may mean that the existing Swift nest places are lost or imperilled. Here are some ways that alternative and hygienic nest places can be fitted, or existing ones co-ordinated with the other occupiers' needs.

2 Offices and Apartment Buildings

Modern buildings are usually sealed against ingress by birds, but can be easily modified before or after building to accept Swift nestplaces. Here is an example where proprietary concrete Swift nestbricks and multiple nestboxes have been fitted to a modern office block. They should not have any adverse effect on the building's performance.

3 Old Commercial Buildings

Old commercial buildings often house Swifts, but the birds usually lose their nest places when refurbishment or conversion takes place. Yet modest low-cost steps taken at design stage can ensure that the birds continue to have homes, and live on to enhance the quality of life for the new occupiers.

 

4 New Warehouses and Factories

New warehouses and factories, even those made from steel frames with metal cladding, can offer very good opportunities for creating Swift colonies. Usually all that is needed is minor redesign of the eaves, or else the application of ready-made nestboxes to high end walls.

5 Multi-Storey Car Parks

Another strategy is to set up Swift nest boxes on multi-storey car parks, placing nestboxes on the upper levels out of the sun and away from human interference. You don't need many nest places to start a good sized colony. With the example shown below just 4 boxes will house 16 Swifts, the basis for an excellent colony and a major contributor to local biodiversity.



6 Church Towers and Spires

These are typical places for Swifts to nest in, and in many cases they will have been there for hundreds of years. But intolerance or ignorance has unfortunately led to the exclusion of birds from many such sites. There is no need for this. Swifts add tremendous vivacity and excitement to the historic environment, and nest places can be established just for them, easily excluding pest species such as pigeons.

7 Chimneys & Flues

On sites where there may be objections to having Swifts nesting in or on houses or buildings, one alternative strategy is to set up Swift nest boxes on chimneys or flues, concentrating the nests in a safe, undisturbed location. Swift chimney or flue-mounted nest boxes need to be more than 5 metres high, with clear local airspace. They can be erected either on their own, or else as part of a utility building, such as an electricity sub-station, pump house or district heating plant. See below for ideas how to use these structures and put up the Swift nest boxes.



8 Water Towers

Whether old or new, water towers can make ideal sites for Swift nest places. Depending on the structure and materials, Swift nest boxes can be fitted to the exterior or fitted within the structure, and holes made or used to link them to the exterior. For speed and ease it is probably best to fit commercial ready-made boxes to the exterior, taking care to mount them always high up and in the shade.



9 Bridges

You quite often find that Bridges already have their wild inhabitants, Bats, Swallows, House Martins, or in Europe Crag Martins and Red-rumped Swallows too. They are attracted because the bridge replicates their natural nest places, cliffs, crags and caves. It's the same with Swifts; if the bridge has suitable holes (and most don't unless they are very aged or deteriorating) then you may find that Swifts or Alpine Swifts are there already. But if not, then it's easy to fit Swift nest places to bridges, even to the most modern concrete and steel types.



10 Safety & Legal Notes


Keep yourself, others and the Swifts safe! Before making, siting, maintaining or checking Swift nest-boxes ensure you have properly assessed the risks, and taken all sensible precautions to avoid accidents to yourself and others, and to prevent any disturbance to the birds. When using tools and access equipment observe all safety guidance. When siting nest-boxes ensure that predators, (squirrels, rats, cats, rats, magpies and crows), cannot gain access.

Building Regulations etc. You will need to satisfy yourself before installation that the relevant Building Regulations, Bye-laws, Planning Laws, Listed Building Consents and leases etc. are being observed, that your site is suitable, and installation will not adversely affect the building. We believe that with some imagination and ingenuity, Swifts can usually be accommodated without difficulty.

11 Nest Place Supplier Links

Installing Swift Nest Places How to install Swift Nest Places               Shopping! Find nest box and nest brick suppliers
 

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