Creating Swift nest places in various
You can create nest places for Swifts easily and cheaply in both
existing and new buildings. The Swifts should find the places sooner or
later (they have found places to nest in our buildings ever since the
Romans came here) but chances of success are greatly enhanced if there
are low-flying screaming Swifts already in the vicinity.
Click on the numbered sections below to access the relevant
Swifts may be in your house already, and here are some typical places
they like to nest in. They are opportunistic nesters, any hole leading
to a flat or almost flat space will do for them.
Repairs and maintenance may mean that the existing Swift nest places
are lost or imperilled. Here are some ways that alternative and
hygienic nest places can be fitted, or existing ones co-ordinated with
the other occupiers' needs.
2 Offices and Apartment Buildings
Modern buildings are usually sealed against ingress by birds, but can
be easily modified before or after building to accept Swift nestplaces.
Here is an example where proprietary concrete Swift nestbricks and
multiple nestboxes have been fitted to a modern office block. They
should not have any adverse effect on the building's performance.
3 Old Commercial Buildings
Old commercial buildings often house Swifts, but the birds usually lose
their nest places when refurbishment or conversion takes place. Yet
modest low-cost steps taken at design stage can ensure that the birds
continue to have homes, and live on to enhance the quality of life for
the new occupiers.
4 New Warehouses and Factories
New warehouses and factories, even those made from steel frames with
metal cladding, can offer very good opportunities for creating Swift
colonies. Usually all that is needed is minor redesign of the eaves, or
else the application of ready-made nestboxes to high end walls.
Multi-Storey Car Parks
Another strategy is to set up Swift nest boxes on multi-storey
car parks, placing nestboxes on the upper levels out
of the sun and away from human interference. You don't
need many nest places to start a good sized colony.
With the example shown below just 4 boxes will house
16 Swifts, the basis for an excellent colony and a major
contributor to local biodiversity.
6 Church Towers and Spires
These are typical places for Swifts to nest in, and in many cases they
will have been there for hundreds of years. But intolerance or
ignorance has unfortunately led to the exclusion of birds from many
such sites. There is no need for this. Swifts add tremendous vivacity
and excitement to the historic environment, and nest places can be
established just for them, easily excluding pest species such as
On sites where there may be objections to having Swifts nesting in or
on houses or buildings, one alternative strategy is to set up Swift
nest boxes on chimneys or flues, concentrating the nests in a safe,
undisturbed location. Swift chimney or flue-mounted nest boxes need to
be more than 5 metres high, with clear local airspace. They can be
erected either on their own, or else as part of a utility building,
such as an electricity sub-station, pump house or district heating
plant. See below for ideas how to use these structures and put up the
Swift nest boxes.
Whether old or new, water towers can make ideal sites
for Swift nest places. Depending on the structure and
materials, Swift nest boxes can be fitted to the exterior
or fitted within the structure, and holes made or used
to link them to the exterior. For speed and ease it
is probably best to fit commercial ready-made boxes
to the exterior, taking care to mount them always high
up and in the shade.
You quite often find that Bridges already have their
wild inhabitants, Bats, Swallows, House Martins, or
in Europe Crag Martins and Red-rumped Swallows too.
They are attracted because the bridge replicates their
natural nest places, cliffs, crags and caves. It's the
same with Swifts; if the bridge has suitable holes (and
most don't unless they are very aged or deteriorating)
then you may find that Swifts or Alpine Swifts are there
already. But if not, then it's easy to fit Swift nest
places to bridges, even to the most modern concrete
and steel types.
Safety & Legal Notes
Keep yourself, others and the Swifts safe! Before making, siting,
maintaining or checking Swift nest-boxes ensure you have properly
assessed the risks, and taken all sensible precautions to avoid
accidents to yourself and others, and to prevent any disturbance to the
birds. When using tools and access equipment observe all safety
guidance. When siting nest-boxes ensure that predators, (squirrels,
rats, cats, rats, magpies and crows), cannot gain access.
Building Regulations etc. You will need to satisfy yourself before
installation that the relevant Building Regulations, Bye-laws, Planning
Laws, Listed Building Consents and leases etc. are being observed, that
your site is suitable, and installation will not adversely affect the
building. We believe that with some imagination and ingenuity, Swifts
can usually be accommodated without difficulty.
Nest Place Supplier Links
How to install
Swift Nest Places
Find nest box and nest brick suppliers
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