London's Swifts Nest Places in Pantile Roofs

Photographs Bill Ball



Swifts will nest under pantiles if there are sufficient gaps to let them get in and out. They make their nest either on the roofing felt below, or else on the roof timbers. New Swift nest places can be easily installed in pantile roofs, even if the tiles are close fitting, and nestboxes built to give the Swifts safe and contained nest spaces.

The Swift nest-places should ideally be out of direct sunlight on the shaded side of the building.

Minimum nest place dimensions are 20cm by 35cm by 20cm high. But bigger is better! The entrance is made using a ventilator tile, (the sort with a pottery hood attached to the pantile - see picture below), with the inner insect-proof mesh screen completely removed, so the birds can gain access to their nest.

N.B. Roof ventilation and insulation should if necessary be examined and assured by experts before starting work. Through ventilation benefits Swifts, who often suffer from overheated nest places.

How to install Swift nest places in pantile roofs

Photographs Louis-Philippe Arnhem - SMS-Worldwide

A hooded ventilator pantile, (see above left) with the internal insect screen totally removed, is used as the Swifts' entrance. A plywood box is built between the rafters behind it, with the floor level with the entrance so the birds have easy access. The Perspex back to the box illustrated is for demonstration purposes only. Unless you plan to film the Swifts, use plywood instead, but preserve the upper air gap to ensure adequate through ventilation and cooling on hot Summer days.

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