London's Swifts Swift Towers
          They can be set up quickly, easily and need minimal maintenance
          They can be spectacular, or blend in with the urban townscape

Swifts used to nest in the massive trees found in ancient forests. Nowadays they will sometimes breed in structures like motorway light gantries, old fortifications and water towers, if they can find a space in them to make a nest. So why not create a special nest colony for them on top of a pole or a tower?


The Belfast Bus Station Swifts Tower


This Swift tower was erected in 2012 at the Belfast Bus Station. It is a commercial model available ready made from Stoneyford Engineering, in Lisburn, County Antrim, Northern Ireland. Photo Brian Cahalane

A good try at a Swift Tower for the London Olympics 2012


Above, a design produced for a competition for a Swift Tower at the London Olympics 2012. Unfortunately no tower was ever built for reasons of economy. Drawing Paul Goodhall / Hyland Edgar Driver

A good site for a nest box project?

Below, a
n historic water tower near Cherwell in Oxfordshire. Such a site could be perfect for Swifts, as commercially available nestboxes might be fitted easily and fairly unobtrusively under the balcony.

Photo Chris Mason

Another good site for a discreet nestbox project

On the left, an interesting early 20th Century water tower in Berlin. This was fitted some years ago with a good number of Swift nest boxes, and for some time the colony did well. In recent years Swifts however have failed to breed there. No one knows why this is so, though they are still present in the sky above the neighbouring apartment blocks.

On this tower, for architectural and aesthetic reasons, the nest boxes were bespoke, mounted internally and made from plywood.

At less sensitive sites, like modern concrete water towers, commercial readymade concrete nest boxes may be used with great ease and economy.

It is always worth fitting Swift nest boxes to such sites, as they have several important advantages; longevity, security, centralised management, privacy, peace and quiet, good opportunites for observation and CCTV/web cam installation, excellent possibilites for educational activities involving residents and local schoolchildren and of course, good publicity for the utility company involved.

Photo Edward Mayer




On the banks of the Vistula - Perfect for Swifts!

This Swift Tower project was designed by Menthol Architects in Poland for the Ko[pernicus Cnetre on the banks fo the Vistula in Warsaw.

Poland's population of Swifts, once excellent, has fallen away sharply in recent years, largely we understand as a result of large-scale projects to insulate apartment blocks by cladding them and injecting roof voids with insulation materials, depriving Swifts (and bats too) of breeding and roosting places.

swift tower along Vistula River

Drawings Menthol Architects Warsaw Poland

This tower concept could go a long way to redress the situation, were it to be copied in many locations and were it to be managed sympathetically enough to provide the Swifts with secure and long-lasting nestplaces.

The minimum height for a Tower colony is 7 metres, but the higher the better, and the safer. The site must not be vulnerable to vandalism. A concentration of birds may present an attractive target for anti-social behaviour. Nest places should therefore be sited as high as possible and at sites which are either unattractive to vandals or else secure. Industrial estates, electrical switching yards, warehousing sites, nuclear and other power stations, hospitals, railway sidings, factory towers and chimneys all present potential opportunities for siting tower colonies, while vandalism-prone housing estates, brownfield sites, and unsecured sites in general should probably be avoided.

N.B. It is essential to have an engineer check the plans for any proposed Swift Tower for structural soundness well before any work starts.

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