Swifts are very loyal to their breeding sites and usually return to the same nest site year after year. Unfortunately this is when problems may arise as Swifts require gaps and holes in buildings through which they access their nest so they are vulnerable to house renovations such as new fascias and soffits, replacement of wood with plastic covers or cavity wall insulation which blocks up the access holes they need. If a Swift nest site has been covered up or destroyed then the Swifts probably won’t breed that year.
Fortunately Swifts will nest in artificial Swift boxes or Swift bricks although it may take them some time to colonise new nest sites and there is no guarantee they will do so. By installing Swift boxes on existing houses, churches or offices we can provide alternative nest sites. Or if you are building a new home or an extension then you can consider installing integral Swift bricks into the structure. You can read more about the options here or contact Hampshire Swifts for free advice.
Hampshire Swifts provide two types of boxes. The first is the Model 30 made from external/marine ply and coated with Roxil waterproof coating. It has a sloping white plastic top so that predators cannot perch on top and the overhang gives some protection to the box from the elements. There are also a few commercially available Swift boxes and Swift bricks.
Secondly, Hampshire Swifts and the Minstead Trust have jointly designed a bespoke Swift nest box made of softwood and the sales of which directly support the activities of the Trust. The box is stained with Sadolins. Because it has a flat top it is only suitable for fixing under horizontal eaves over 225mm wide overall. Both boxes can be overpainted for a small extra charge.
Swifts can be slow to take up residence and one way to speed this up is to play Swift calls in the vicinity of the nest box using a low-cost player. These play the calls Swifts use when in their nest site and this is used by prospecting, non-breeding Swifts to identify potential nest sites. The call system consists of a small speaker positioned either in, underneath or in the vicinity of the box and this feeds to the player which is usually placed indoors near a power supply; using a timer the calls can be scheduled to play at times thought best to attract Swifts and, of equal importance, avoid disturbing the neighbours. The player contains an SD card with the calls included.
Providing additional Swift nest sites across the county is an important part of our work and we are happy to offer advice on whether Swift boxes are appropriate, which type would be most suitable and where they should be located. We can also supply some models of box as well as call attraction systems, these are sold at cost plus a small contribution which supports additional conservation activities. Depending on location we may also be able to offer installation. Contact us for more information.