Gable Colonies

Important new knowledge about Swifts is being learnt from these colonies - you too can build one!

Erich Kaiser's gable colony in Kronberg, near Frankfurt. About 90 Swifts nest every year in this house, all in man-made nest places, like the one on the right. As local roofs are replaced the area's birds are increasingly reliant on this one house to breed in.

A Swift broods its eggs in a gable nest box. Note the entrance hole cut with a diamond drill; only the outermost part is of narrow diameter to keep out Starlings and Sparrows.                   Photographs Erich Kaiser


Swift enthusiasts like Jan Holmgren in Sweden, Erich Kaiser and August Atzert in Germany, and Graham Roberts in Portsmouth, have established large Swift colonies in the gables of their homes. If you have a non-load-bearing gable (if load-bearing, you need a surveyor's advice before you start) you should be able to make access holes and install the wooden boxes and their supports. Take good care to keep your house weatherproof.

A typical scheme is illustrated below. The Swifts need privacy, adequate space, good ventilation and peace and quiet. Old wooden fruit boxes can be converted into nest boxes, rather than using new plywood.

Colonies provide excellent opportunities for observation, and contribute greatly to our knowledge of Swifts. Your colony can provide new knowledge, hours of satisfaction, and of course, homes for lots more Swifts!



Left - A Swift leaves its nest at speed to collect more food for its chicks. Swifts are discreet at the nest, moving fast, they minimise their exposure to predators like falcons and crows. Above - two Swift chicks in their nest box. They will be off to Africa within two weeks.

 

Photographs Erich Kaiser & Ulrich Tigges

For further information contact Swift Conservation

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