How you can help Swifts

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

1 What to do when re-roofing
Making your home a Swifts' home
Helping Swifts in your community
What to do if Swifts are threatened by building work!

What to do when re-roofing - follow these rules

1. Leave existing nest places undisturbed - don't interfere and make sure that your builders don't either
2. If re-roofing or replacing soffits & bargeboards, make new access holes to match the old ones exactly
3. It is far better to create internal nest spaces than external ones as the former have longevity built in
4. If you cannot do "3 " above, fit external nest boxes, though these may lack the longevity of the alternatives

Leave well alone! If you fear rain water ingress fit a piece of slate in the pointing above as a rain shield, but only do the work when the Swifts are in Africa!
Photo: © Author Unknown

Cutting holes in these plastic soffits has retained access for the Swifts for the life of this new roof, a cheap and easy way to help them survive.
Photo: © Julian Dowding

This top floor room's outer wall is having Swift nestboxes fitted into it from the inside. They will last for the life of the building, safe behind the internal wall surface.
Photo: © Hans Willemsen

Three Schwegler Swift nestboxes have been fitted to this new house. They are successful, but more vulnerable to change of ownership than internal nests.
Photo: © Edward Mayer

Making your home a Swifts' home!

Create a place for Swifts. If you've already got Swifts, make sure they stay for ever. If they haven't settled yet, make space available in your gable or eaves or else fit external nest boxes, and attract the birds with the Swift calls CD. Have a look at our "Ideal Sites for Swifts" and "Installing Swift Nest-places" pages for all the information you need.

Swift nestboxes fitted on to the upper wall of an end of terrace. These lightweight concrete boxes, made by Schwegler, are available in the UK.                         Photograph © Schwegler Gmbh

The late Jack Lamb's home made Swift nestboxes, a succesful venture in DIY Swift nest place creation
Photograph © Jack Lamb

Helping Swifts in your community

To help on a wider scale one needs to identify the local Swift populations, and assess their activity. See our "Education and Research with Swifts" pages for guidance. If you find recording work satisfying, (it is very useful), think about joining the British Trust for Ornithology. They need help with assembling essential records. See the "Hot Links" page.

Having identified the local Swift populations, here's what can be done...

interest the local newspapers. Start with letters briefly describing Swifts' problems and what you would like to see the local authority and developers and builders doing to help them.
Local Councillors
write asking if Swifts have been included in their Biodiversity Plan, and if not, why not! Look at the Biodiversity Policies section below for sample material to show them.
Your MP & MEP
write setting out your local Swifts' problems. Ask what they are doing to help Swifts in their constituency. Use the free fax link below!
The Minister for Nature Conservation & Fisheries
write and say that Swifts cannot nest in modern or refurbished buildings, numbers are dropping, and they need year-round nest place protection, as well as artificial nest places in at least 10% of all new buildings too, if they are to survive. The address: Richard Benyon MP,
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Natural Environment and Fisheries), House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA Tel: 0207 219 8319 E-Mail click here .

What to do if Swifts are threatened by building work!

If you see re-roofing work going on in May, June, July or early August on houses or buildings where Swifts are nesting (low screaming flight around the building and/or access in and out of eaves, ventilators etc. are key signs) contact the local Police force's Wildlife Officer immediately and ask them to act. Also (most important!) inform the RSPB's Wildlife Crime Unit via the link at the bottom of the page and also your local authority's Bio-Diversity Officer. If there are any signs that the Swifts are being physically harmed (eg beaten off the walls by the builders, or insulation foam injected into occupied nest-spaces (Yes! It happens!) contact the RSPCA's
24-hour Cruelty and Advice Line: 0300 1234 9999. Calls are treated in the strictest confidence.
Please also alert Engish Nature, the Government's Nature watchdog, again via the link at the bottom of the page, they can put a stop to work that threatens Swifts.
Take photographs if you can and always keep a note of all observations and conversations and be available during any site visit by the Police, the RSPB, RSPCA or English Nature so you can identify the exact areas.

Redevelopment: If there is redevelopment where Swifts are active one should get involved right away. One can write to the local Planning Authority (find out how to do this from the Planning Notices put up around the affected site, or from the Town Hall) pointing out that there is a population of a protected species, the Swift, active at the site, and asking that work does not take place during the birds' breeding season (May to August), and that nest sites are maintained or alternative nest places are installed.

New developments: One can make one's voice heard at the Planning Consultation stage, and request that Swift nesting facilities are incorporated in the new buildings being considered. Maybe there will be a sympathetic response - it's a way for the developer to get some favourable publicity.

Letters to Local Authority Planners - Templates

Use these templates prepared by the RSPB to write to your local authority's Planning Department to alert them to Swifts affected by building works:

Letter Templates Guidance Note Read this first! Guidance note for using planning letter templates

Letter template 1 Template 1 - for Swifts nests present at a major development

Letter Template 2 Template 2 - Potential to incorporate Swift nests in a development

Letter Template 3 Template 3 - Swift nests potentially threatened by renovation

Some Useful Contacts

Need to report a Wildlife Crime? Need to report a Wildlife Crime? Click on the Swift to access the RSPB's Wildlife Crime Report Form

View the Birders Against Wildlife Crime Website Use this link to view the Birders Against Wildlife Crime website

Contact English Nature Need to contact English Nature? click here or on the Swift!

Fax Your MP! Click here to Fax your MP - it's free!  

Contact Swift Conservation Need advice? For more information contact Swift Conservation

How Chris Mason helped Swifts See how Chris Mason helped his local Swifts! Download his short article  This is a PDF file and requires the Adobe® Reader™ to open it - download it here if you need it  Adobe Reader

Ideal Sites for Swifts Next - Ideal Sites for Swifts

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