Swifts are very loyal to their breeding sites and are thought to return to the same nest site year after year. Unfortunately this is when problems may arise as Swifts require gaps and holes in buildings to nest so they are vulnerable to house renovations such as new soffits, replacement of wood with plastic covers or cavity wall insulation which block 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 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 boxes on houses, churches or offices we can provide alternative nest sites.
Swifts can be slow at taking 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 cheap tweeter positioned 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.
In addition to the above, Hampshire Swifts and Minstead Trust have jointly designed a bespoke Swift nest box which is commercially available and the sales of which directly support the activities of the Trust.
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.