Roofs for wildlife

Roofs for wildlife

House sparrows, starlings, house martins and swifts depend on buildings for nest sites. Some species are almost completely dependent on them.

Opportunities for birds to share your house are greatest in older properties. Modern building techniques and renovation materials can prevent their access, unless you provide specific opportunities. Roofs are also important habitats for roosting bats.

Our top five tips

There are five steps for safeguarding existing nest sites or creating new ones in your roof: 

  1. Where possible, leave existing nest holes alone and work around them when carrying out repairs and renovations.
  2. If this isn't possible, fit an internal nest box behind the replacement material. Position the box and make a hole in the new material at exactly the same location as the original nest site.
  3. Utilise the existing roof or fascia and soffit design to create new nest sites. Make appropriately sized holes in suitable locations.
  4. In new builds or extensions, fit a pre-fabricated swift brick into the fabric of the wall during construction or put internal nest boxes behind the fascias and soffits.
  5. If none of the above are possible, use externally fitted nest boxes.
Swift nestbox

Why eaves can make good habitats

The eaves of a house may sound an unlikely place to look for wildlife, but you may find many species living there. In the eaves, the house roof projects beyond the wall it supports creating a sheltered, often warm place. 

Insects and other invertebrates may hide or even hibernate up here. House martins build their mud homes in eaves, and you can encourage them by putting up artificial nests. Starlings and house sparrows may also take up residence in nestboxes in the eaves. 

Bat boxes can also be hung up here and may be used as summer roosts.

House martin at nest in barn

Green roofs

Roofs for wildlife

Green roofs have been used extensively on the continent for some time and are now becoming more popular in the UK. Mosses and lichens will grow naturally on most roofs, but a green roof is intentionally designed to support vegetation.