London's Swifts Swift Towers
Use existing water towers, or old medieval fortifications & towers,
to create nest places for many Swifts at a go

They can be set up quickly, easily and need minimal maintenance
They can be achieved with minimal change to the urban landscape

Swifts used to nest in woodpecker holes in the massive trees found in ancient forests. Nowadays they will sometimes breed in structures

like 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 in a similar structure?

A good site for a discreet nestbox project

Below, an interesting early 20th Century water tower in Berlin. This was fitted some years ago with Swift nest boxes, and for some time the colony did well. But in recent years Swifts have failed to breed there. No one knows why, as 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 or GRP 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, 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

Another good site for a project?

Below, a
n historic water tower near Cherwell in Oxfordshire, easily
visible from the motorway. Such a site could be just right for Swifts,
as commercially available nestboxes might be fitted easily and fairly unobtrusively under the balcony, where they would be in the perfect position to host Swifts.

Photo Chris Mason

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 and unsecured sites in general should probably be avoided.

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

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