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Hospital of St Cross update

Our last update one year ago detailed the eight nesting pairs of Swifts that had been encouraged to nest at the Hospital of St Cross, Winchester, following the installation of 15 internal nesting boxes in the winter of 2018/2019.

 Hospital of St Cross, Winchester
Hospital of St Cross, Winchester

During April 2022 we installed a further 20 boxes and all have now been renumbered so that we can keep track of each box at the end of the nesting season.

Internal Swift boxes at the Hospital of St Cross April 2022
Internal Swift boxes at the Hospital of St Cross April 2022

So that makes a total of 35 boxes now installed, including five on the rear of the Old Kitchen Wing with an additional call player. Interestingly two of these new boxes on the rear already have partly-built nests inside them. We knew Swifts were using two of these boxes as we were indoors on the first floor on 24 June when we heard birds go into both boxes 23 and 24.

St Cross – rear of Old Kitchen Wing
St Cross – rear of Old Kitchen Wing

Box 24 – start of nest 21.09.2022
Box 24 – start of nest 21.09.2022

Overall the numbers of nesting pairs has gone from eight to nine in 2022. And there were four completed or partially built nests this year rather than the two last year. It seems that the pair that built the nest in box ten (previously box two) last year did not return to breed.

Box 10 Sept 2021 on left, and Sept 2022 on right.
Box 10 Sept 2021 on left, and Sept 2022 on right.

Although the feathery parts of the feathers have all been eaten over the winter and there are one or two extra droppings in the nest showing that Swifts have been in the box this summer, there aren’t the extra poo marks indicating that young were reared.

There is still potential for a further five boxes to be installed here and we look forward to completing that over the winter.

And here is a video of an adult with two fully fledged young that nested for the second year under box 18 (prev box 6) whilst another pair nested inside the box just 50mm over their heads.


Last night together before the youngsters leave the nest


Bring on 2023.

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