Now is the time of year when many people are getting busy repairing or improving their homes, with scaffolding or ladders becoming a common sight as windows, gutters and roofs get fixed or replaced. However, it’s also the time when birds are nesting - buildings are important nest sites for many species. 
Cavity nesters returning to old nests in buildings include house sparrows and swifts, while house martins will be repairing old nests under the eaves on the outside of buildings. Depending on the species, they can raise several families over the summer, and house martins can still be feeding late broods into September if the weather is good. 

Photo 1: House martin nest by John Markham (

So you can see the problem – birds need a home, and people need to maintain their homes. Sadly many nest sites in houses are being lost as a result of repairs and improvements. But with a little care and planning, you can look after your nesting birds and ensure they have a safe home into the future, and provide new homes for birds.

If you have an `active’ nest (ie, birds are building or repairing a nest, or incubating eggs or feeding chicks in or on your house), you’ll have to delay works that could damage those nests, or prevent the parent birds from attending those nests, until the chicks have fledged. It’s against the law to damage or destroy active nests.

Photo 2: Swifts by Ben Andrew (

When planning or carrying out building repair works, ensure the works don’t damage existing active nests including blocking entrance holes, and also make sure nest sites are retained or replaced so birds can continue to nest in future years.

The RSPB sells a range of nestboxes, including those suitable for birds that nest in or on buildings, here.

Photo 3: Swallow by Chris Gomersall (

If you are lucky enough to have nesting swifts or want to encourage them to nest in your building, there’s lots of advice here.