Swifts getting a helping hand on the ‘housing’ ladder

Up to 100 nesting boxes for swifts will be erected on Winchester City Council housing properties thanks to a new partnership.

The collaboration with the Hampshire Swift Group will ensure that the city council can play its part in ensuring the birds have much-needed nesting sites in Winchester.

Due to a reduction in the number of suitable nesting sites and lack of insect food, the population of swifts in Hampshire and the UK has fallen.

The artificial swift boxes will provide new nesting places for the birds as part of a large reroofing programme being undertaken by the council in Highcliffe and Stanmore.

Winchester City Council Portfolio Holder for the Environment, Cllr Jan Warwick, said:

“This work has been made possible by Winchester City Council investing in biodiversity and employing a new ecologist who is leading on this project. 

“We are delighted that this work is resulting in these new boxes being erected, along with other features to protect and improve biodiversity.”

Tim Norriss of Hampshire Swifts, said:

“Swifts fly thousands of miles from southern Africa to Britain to breed but the suitable nesting sites are becoming increasingly difficult to find due to modern construction methods. 

“Sadly, the British swift population has declined by about 50% in the last 20 years.  By providing artificial nesting sites, we are helping to halt the decline of swifts and other birds.”

While the reroofing works are part of an ongoing maintenance programme, it is known that modern building methods and better maintenance of properties can exclude swifts from their usual nesting places in roofs. 

The use of artificial boxes ensures that swifts and other birds have a place to nest once the reroofing works have been completed.