London's Swifts Nest Places in Eaves

This 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.

N.B. The 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.

Existing Eaves 

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.

New Eaves

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