Our Guides

How to help nesting swifts

  • Difficulty - High - Adult focused
  • Wildlife Connections Guide

Historically swifts used to nest inside holes in trees and rocky crevices but since Roman times they have made use of buildings, nesting in places like eaves and holes in walls, so much so that you rarely find them nesting anywhere else nowadays.

One of the reasons they aren’t doing too well in the UK at the moment is that new buildings often don’t provide with the right areas to make their nests.

Below are some of the ways you can help. If you are planning any work on your house or other buildings, think of the swifts. This is particularly important if you’ve previously had swifts nesting there.

  • You could ask your builders about ways they could leave gaps so that the Swifts can still access roofs – for example cut slots in the soffits or facing boards.
  • Special 'swift bricks' are available, these look a bit like breeze block and can easily be built into houses.
  • Swifts will also use nest boxes put up on the sides of houses as long as these are the right shape for them, you can buy special swift nest boxes.
  • If you want to get creative you can make a swift nest box - see below

Making a simple swift nest box

(swift-conservation.org - Edward Mayer)

  • Using 12mm or 15mm thick plywood cut 3 pieces 50cm by 20cm (for the front, back and bottom of the box), 2 pieces 17cm by 20 cm for the side and one piece 50cm by 25cm for the roof- to allow an overhang)
  • Draw and cut out a square or oval shaped hole of 6.5cm across and 3cm high in the front panel (if the whole is too big, starlings will be able use the nest box)
  • Nail the pieces securely together- the 5cm overhang of the top panel overhanging the front panel and entrance to the box.
  • The swift box can be attached to the building using brackets.
  • The best location for your swift box is directly under the eaves, at least 5 meters off the ground out of direct sunlight.
  • Make sure that there are no obstructions for the swifts flying in and out of the nest box.

Once all of the hard work is done, sit back relax and keep a look out for visitors. You can expect to see swifts between April and August. Record when they arrive and leave and pass on your findings to your local recording centre, or us! This is information can be really useful and tell us lots about the Swifts.

What to do next

Now that you've helped nesting swifts it's really important to us that you let us know using this form (you can upload a photo too).

Record your action

By keeping track of where amazing people like you are creating wildlife friendly spaces we can see the impact we're having.

And don't forget to keep recording the wildlife you see in your local area here: www.chesterzoo.org/record

References

Swift-conservaton.org

Swift Conservation's Quick & Simple Plywood Swift Nest Box

RSPB - Nestboxes for the roof

Swift image ApusApusKlausRoggel05" by Klaus Roggel, Berlin - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.