If you have a wall that’s at least five metres tall, with a clear flyway in front, then you could install a swift box or brick onto your business or home. Modern building designs are often nook and cranny free when it comes to their roof and eaves, but there are many designs of swift box that can be installed to replace these once-common nest sites and encourage them back to your local area.
As swifts spend much of the year in southern Africa and are only in the UK from late April to August, they only spend about 10 to 12 weeks in their nests. Unlike other birds, they don’t usually leave piles of droppings under their nest places, so they’re incredibly trouble-free tenants.
There are many commercial swift boxes available, which you can buy online from NHBS. You can find ones which can used in place of a conventional brick when building, or mounted on the side of a wall.
If you want to build your own – and this may be the best option if you have a particular space you want to fill under your eaves – then Action for Swifts have a wide range of nest box designs on their website. These include some which are fine for use on a south-facing wall, with in-built protection from the heat of the sun.
If at all possible, internal nest sites are preferable to external boxes, as they are much easier to maintain and will last much longer. But any box is a win for swifts, so we’re encouraging everyone to do whatever they can.
You may have to be patient. It can take a few years for swifts to find your box, and even when they do, they may not breed for the first year or two. You can encourage them to investigate your new box by playing swift calls nearby, and there is guidance on this on the Swift Conservation website.
Contact your local swift group – or start your own!
There are a number of swift groups across Sheffield, raising awareness of the challenges swifts face and enabling local residents to install swift boxes on their homes, all with the support of their local communities.
Click here to find out more about swifts, get contact details for local swift groups in our area and learn more about how you can help these brilliant birds.