London's Swifts Fitting Swift Nest-places

             1 Built in
Do It Yourself
Where to fit them
Attracting Swifts to them
Safety & legal aspects   
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Photograph © Iain Boulton (London Borough of Lambeth)

Built in is the best way to create new nest places for Swifts, ensuring longevity, safety and minimal maintenance needs.
There is a huge variety of ways to do this, from installing commercial "Swift Bricks" in blockwork walls, to making dedicated box eaves,
to ingeniously creating holes in suitable walls.  See the pages below for some ideas.

A Swift Brick under the eaves at Horsham Library, West Sussex, a built-in Swift box being installed inside a building in Haarlem, Holland, and the entrance holes to a built-in Swift colony in Kronberg, near Frankfurt. These are simple low-cost ways to provide permanent Swift nest places inside the walls of buildings.  Photos © Graham Roberts, Hans Willemsen & Erich Kaiser

Eaves Nestplaces Nest Places inside Eaves - install in both existing and new buildings

Pantile Roof Nestplaces Nest Places in Pantile Roofs - new or existing

Solid Wall Nestplaces Nest Places in Solid Walls - stone, rock, concrete and rubble core

Cavity Wall Nestplaces Nest Places in Cavity Walls - new build, or re-built

Internal Nest Trays Internal Nest Trays for use behind louvres or openings in towers, spires, high walls and cupolas

Gable Colonies Gable Colonies - make a colony box and set it up behind a gable

Tower & Pole Colonies Tower Colonies - create a colony on an existing tower

Retro-fitted Ready-made Commercial Swift nest boxes - there's a wide variety of designs to suit most applications,
both internal and external. There should be a nestbox suitable for your site.

Shopping! Click on the Swift to visit our Shopping! page and select nest boxes

External Swift Nestboxes at Islington Council Offices, London, and on a private house near Antrim. Right, Swift chicks inside a nestbox at the Cathedral in Alcudia, Valencia, Spain. This is a simple way to provide Swifts with nest places on existing buildings. The boxes are bolted to a suitable strong surface high up in locations where the birds won't be disturbed.  Photos  ©  E Mayer & J Sanz

Do It Yourself 
Make your own nest boxes! Try a design from the ones below - just click on the Swifts in green squares

Swift nest box entrance hole choices Advice on choosing a hole type and size for your D-I-Y Swift nest box

The Leuven Pattern Nest Box The Leuven Pattern D-I-Y Under Eaves Swift nest box - highly successful!

Zeist Type swift Nest box pattern The Zeist pattern nest box - well proven - and you can download  a plan for cutting 8 boxes from one plywood sheet here

Bristol Swifts Twin Nest Box Mark Glanville's D I Y twin compartment Swift nest box as seen on BBC SpringWatch!

Bristol Swifts Twin Nest Box Allan Knight's D I Y single compartment Swift nest box

DIY Swift & Bat Box D I Y easy to build Swift nesting box with extra Pipistrelle Bat roosting space

DIY Simple Single Nest Box D I Y Quick & Simple single nest place under-eaves or wall-mounted box - ideal for home use

DIY Simple Triple Nest Box + Bat Roost D I Y Triple Swift nest box with ample roosting space at rear for small bats too

DIY Simple Triple Nest Box + Bat Roost Marcel Jacquat's Simple Swiss-style eaves nest box for deep eaves

DIY Simple Triple Nest Box + Bat Roost Bernard Genton's Swiss-style eaves nest box with Sparrow-exclusion door

These D I Y Plans are PDF files and need the Adobe® Reader™ to open. Download it here  
Adobe Reader

Contact Swift Conservation Need advice, or a bespoke box design? contact Swift Conservation




DIY plywood nestboxes at Bradford on Avon in Wiltshire, where wildlife artist Jonathan Pomroy created his own Swift colony
Photographs © Jonathan Pomroy 

Commercial & DIY Swift nest boxes
The concrete types are made by Schwegler and sold in the UK - see our "Shopping!" page Shopping!
They can be used in walls, on vertical surfaces and under eaves.

The wooden types are hand made from 12mm exterior quality plywood, to suit particular applications
in and under a wide variety of eaves and roofs.      
Photo © G Roberts

Where to fit Swift Nest Places

  • optimum places are under deep eaves, on gables and on high walls in some shade
  • not subject to disturbance from window cleaning or maintenance visits
  • safe from potential attack by Squirrels, Crows and Magpies i.e. no adjacent perches or creepers
  • at least 4.5 metres above ground level
  • with uncluttered adjacent airspace for easy flight access

Siting Nest Boxes 

Attracting Swifts using the Swift Calls CD

Swift Call CD's Order a Swift Calls CD- see our Shopping Page 

There have been exciting developments in encouraging Swifts to find and occupy nest spaces. Installing loudspeakers and playing a Swift calls CD from the eaves or nest space, sufficiently loud for the birds to hear as they fly overhead when they arrive in May, can be very successful. Read the views of one successful user below -

"I have been able to attract swifts from a half mile away and more. I conducted a simple experiment using my wife and son and mobile phones. One was positioned at the house, the other a quarter of a mile away, and myself a half mile away. It's almost a straight line from my house to the centre of the village.
A phone call from myself and and the CD was switched on at my house at full volume, I could hear it in the village. Swifts began to move towards my house and I could observe them through my binoculars, when they passed my wife she rang me, and when they arrived at the house my son rang me. I have 24 potential nesting sites and often have as many as ten speakers playing at once, positioned at ten boxes.
As I now have a colony established there are now many visits from Swift "prospectors" coming by themselves to investigate."

Equipment needed - CD player, an amplifier, a couple of small loudspeakers, and a Swift Calls CD (available from Swift Conservation - see our Shopping page via the link above). A power supply will be needed for the CD player and amplifier. Other types of audio equipment may be suitable. NB This work should only be done outside the Swifts' breeding season. The birds must never be disturbed at the nest.

The Swift Calls CD consists of about 60 minutes of the calls of birds advertising they have a nest space, and also calling to their mates from within the nest. It is an incentive to Swifts searching for a nest, something that occurs whenever new birds return to breed or older birds find their former nest sites unavailable.

Played from within the actual nest space (eaves, boxes, belfry or tower) it draws the birds in to investigate, and hopefully settle to breed.

Swift Call CD's For further advice on obtaining and setting up suitable sound systems please contact Dick Newell via this link

Safety & legal aspects

Keep yourself, others and the Swifts safe! Before making, siting, maintaining or checking Swift nest-boxes ensure you have taken all 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 making and fitting nest-boxes ensure that your working site, methods, and means of access are safe.

Ensure the boxes are fixed soundly to resist severe weather and any other risks.

Ensure predators, (squirrels, rats, cats, rats, magpies, and crows), cannot gain access.

Take great care when accessing lofts and other potentially hazardous areas.

Electrical work should only be performed by competent qualified persons.

All manufacturers' instructions should be carefully studied and observed.

Building Regulations etc. You will need to satisfy yourself before installation that the relevant Building Regulations, Bye-laws, Planning Laws and Listed Building Consents 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. 

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