Create a high home for Swifts

Set up a nest box to give summer-visiting Swifts a place to nest and breed year after year.

A Swift, with wings outstretched, flying towards the camera

Swifts come back to the same nest year after year. They like high, deep crevices for nesting, but the loss of many old buildings and the filling in and mending of roof spaces are shutting Swifts out of their favourite sites. 

Their numbers have declined dramatically and they’re now on the UK Red list of Birds of Conservation Concern. But you can help. Fix a wooden Swift nest box to the outside of your home to give them somewhere to nest. 

You can buy a ready-made box from our RSPB shop or if you fancy a bit of DIY, here’s how to make a Swift nest box.

How to make a home for Swifts
Estimated time: 3-4 hours Season: Autumn, Winter, Spring Skill level: Advanced


Where to put a Swift box

First you’ll need to check you have a suitable spot for your nest box. Place it on the wall of a building, tightly under the eaves (where the roof hangs over the walls). It should be at least 5m (16 feet) above the ground and easy for Swifts to fly into. Think of how a Swift will approach the nest – it flies down and then up to the nest site at speed, the upward swoop helps it slow down to land. The box shouldn't be in direct sunlight, so place it on a wall that faces north, east or somewhere in between. (Note: If you are having major renovation works done, you can use a special Swift brick. These fit into the fabric of the outer house wall. However, it should only be done by a qualified builder.)

A lone Swift swooping towards the camera.

Swift nestbox plans – make your own

Measure out the pieces of your exterior plywood according to our diagram. Cut all the pieces, including the rectangular hole into the front, shown in black. For plywood 15mm thick, the hole should be cut 45mm high and 80mm wide.

Note: Plywood comes in different thicknesses, so you will need to adjust the size of the rectangular entry hole you cut according to the wood thickness you are using.

Swift nest box diagram.
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