Giving Swifts a Little Help

It was Swift Awareness Week last week. Work was a bit busy then but, a week later, I have finally put up two swift nestboxes that I was prevented from putting in place earlier in the year.

Swift nestbox.

By doing a little research, I found that swifts are more likely to use a box if the interior is dark, so I painted the insides of my two new boxes black.

The effect of painting the interior.

It did not seem right to expect swifts to lay eggs on a perfectly flat surface, so I created a nest concave for each box. The simplest way that I could think of to do this was to cut a set of circles of decreasing size in pieces of card and glue these together. I also thought the birds might prefer a box that looks a little lived-in, so I glued a few feathers, from our budgerigars, into the concave.

Nest concave.

The main way to increase the probability that the boxes will be used is to play the calls of swifts to attract them to the boxes. To do this, I bought a couple of small speakers, or tweeters, and a small, cheap amplifier unit. the tweeters are attached to the boxes and the amplifier is in the house. This set-up plays swift calls from an SD card and is turned on and off using a timer plug.

Tweeters.

Finally, I placed the boxes below the eaves of the house.

Swift boxes (left) and house sparrow boxes (right).

I have missed this year’s breeding season but I hope that some swifts will have a look at the boxes before they return to Africa for the winter.