Swift / Swallow Nest Boxes

Happy New Year All! This is my 1st ever post on the RSPB website! I was wondering if anyone in the RSPB community could help me with a few questions I have regarding the viability of installing swift or swallow nest boxes? I work for a business about 3 miles on the outskirts of Leeds. Last year I was given the go ahead, together with our Facilities Team to turn a disused area on our site into a garden area which both attracts wildlife and can be enjoyed by our employees as a place to relax during break times etc. The area of land is about 1.25 acres and is situated behind one of our test facilities. The area already contains a number of hedges, shrubs and trees. We have already started to add a whole host of other features to attract (hopefully?!) wildlife such as insect hives, bird boxes, a pond, wildflower and nectar rich flowers, nettles, etc. We have created seats from old telegraph poles and used an old wooden transport container as a sheltered seating area! We are also in talks with the local beekeepers association about locating a honey beehive in the area and if successful selling the honey in our canteen! Anyway, I digress! After hearing about the plight of so many of our bird species in this country, in particular swifts and swallows I would like to help. As stated earlier the area backs onto one of our test facilities and I would like to install some swift or swallow boxes on the side of this building. The building is about 25m high is of a prefabricated steel material (see pictures attached). The side of the building is North to North East facing. We are located fairly high up compared to the surrounding area and there is a clear flight path. Therefore, 1) Are we located in the right area to attract swifts or swallows? 2) If yes, would the building and building wall be suitable to install swift or swallow boxes? 3) If yes, what do we need to consider regarding the nest box type, materials, location etc.? Apologies for the long post! Anyway help would be gratefully appreciated.
  • Welcome to the forum Darran ... sounds like a grand scheme you have started & will be good to follow your progress!

    Unfortunately I am not the one who can give you definitive advice on Swift/Swallow boxes but I can alert someone by sending a private message!

    Things are a bit slow on here today as we had been advised that the Forum would be off today for essential maintenance ... however, this doesn't appear to have affected posts but many people will be elsewhere for a while!

    Maybe you will have to be patient until tomorrow but you will not be ignored!


     2013 photos & vids here

    eff37 on Flickr

  • Hi Darren, welcome to the RSPB Community pages. Swallows like to nest inside buildings, which often cause problems for busnesses. However, you can put Swift boxes high up on the side of the building. One of the problmes Swifts are having is a lack of nest sites, so the boxes would be a great idea? Do you have Swifts in the area? It would be worth contacting Swift Conservation, who may be able to arrange to advise you on large scale boxes and advice/help with installation. I've added a couple of links below, one to our web site so you can see the Swift box we sell and to Swift Conservation, where there is more information. Good luck with the project!



  • In reply to Debs:

    Hello Darren and welcome from me up in the very far north of Scotland, in Caithness. What a brillient scheme and thing to be doing, to help out the wildlife and for a peaceful place for folks to visit. Good luck and I hope you have great success.

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

  • In reply to Catlady:

    Hi All,

    Many thanks for all your quick replies, words of encouragement, and help! I have contacted the Swift Conservation Organisation and await their response. If all goes well I hope our garden is visited by lots of wildlife over the next few years! I would love to see swifts or swallows as I was mesmerised by a group of swallows near my home this summer! Fingers crossed! Once again thanks for the help and I will keep you posted.  

  • In reply to Darren A:

    Hello Darren - that's a brilliant project! You could try contacting the 2 Leeds people listed on the Swifts Local Network site here - www.google.com/.../viewer

    Your building looks fine for swifts, but I think swallows prefer to nest under cover.

    Good luck with it!

  • In reply to greenbird:

    Hi All,

    A quick update. I contacted the Swift Conservation Organisation as recommended. Edward Mayer at SCA has provided some fantastic advice. We met with our roofing contractor yesterday as the guttering on the building in question is in desperate need of a clean. There are trees literally growing from the guttering! Therefore this is an ideal opportunity to install the nest boxes. However, due to the location of the building and the services coming from it access to the roof is far from straightforward. However, I am reasonable confident that we will be able to install the nest boxes. I will keep you updated. Once again, thanks for your help.

  • Hello,

    I have a question about swifts and swallows. My neighbours have recently installed a swift box which includes a speaker playing swift calling to try and attract swifts to nest. This seems to have coincided with a decline in the number of swallows coming to our house. Does anyone have any insights as to whether the swift box would be a cause of the decline in the number of swallows?

    Thanks in advance!
  • In reply to porterar:

    Sorry no one has replied. Probably got lost very quickly, esp as tagged onto an old thread. (not a criticism and often happens).

    Very unusual to have swifts and swallows in same breeding location. Are your swallows definitely not house martins?

    Do you have house sparrows? (seems a random question but will explain later).
  • In reply to porterar:

    Been a few days since you posted. Happy to help if you are still around and want your post answered. I need more detail though for that to happen.
  • Hi there,
    Many thanks for your initial response and I've just been doing a bit more observation hence the delay in coming back to you - apologies for that. So I can confirm that they are definitely swallows and not housemartins. I haven't seen any house sparrows. I also personally haven't seen any swifts but my neighbour reports that he has seen a few and that was the reason he installed the swift box.

    It has just been quite noticeable this year that after a fairly large group of swallows earlier in the year, the number is now significantly down on previous years and that has coincided with the installation of the swift box. Hence my original question. There could of course be other explanations as we have had fluctuations in the swallow population in previous years too, it just feels more dramatic this year.