Managing Starlings at Swift Sites

Starlings nest earlier than Swifts and prevent occupation of the best nest places by Swifts when the latter arrive in April or May. Even if the Swifts oust the Starlings, the bulky nest material imported by the Starlings can make the nest place useless. But Starlings are in much the same position as Swifts, declining and finding it hard to get new nest places. So they need help too. If you have Starlings locally, why not put up some boxes just for them? They can be lots of fun!

If Starlings do take over a new Swift box, put up another for the Swifts just before they arrive at the end of April. To prevent Starlings taking over boxes used the previous year by Swifts, you can fix pieces of card over the holes with drawing pins until the Swifts are about to arrive, then quickly remove them.

If none of the above are possible then Starling-proofing a nest place is feasible. Follow the design below when making or refurbishing a nest box, and Starlings should not be able to get in. The dimensions are critical, and must be accurately rendered in the material used. Alternatively, drill an oval hole 65mm wide x 30mm high, this can be done with two cuts of a 30mm hole saw and a bit of sawing in between the two holes to create the precise oval. This should deter Starlings too.

We are indebted to the Purple Martin Conservation Association of North America for this design.

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