Give birds a place to call home

Many of our best-loved species, like House Sparrows, Starlings and Swifts are really struggling. Why not join forces with your neighbours to give them nest boxes all over your neighbourhood?

A house sparrow perched on a tree with downy feather in its beak.
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Whether it’s watching them feasting on feeders or listening to their cheerful chirping, birds have a wonderful ability to lift our spirits, making them brilliant neighbours to have around. But many of our best-loved species, like House Sparrows, Starlings and Swifts are really struggling and a lack of nesting sites could be one of the reasons. You can give them a helping hand by joining forces with your neighbours to provide lots of nest boxes all along your street and throughout the wider area – the more the merrier!

Advice on getting started

Here are a few things to think about before you get started: 

  • Providing nest boxes is a great activity that the whole community can help with. Why not spread the word by dropping leaflets through letterboxes, inviting people to get involved? 
  • Nest boxes don’t need to be expensive. Perhaps you know someone who's great at DIY and could build them for you (using the instructions linked below). Or maybe you could consider getting sponsorship from a local business?
  • It pays to think big. As well as providing boxes along your street, could you get local schools involved? Or encourage the parish council or local authority to install nest boxes on their buildings too? 
  • Always remember to get the building-owner’s permission before putting up nest boxes.
  • Putting up nest boxes usually involves climbing tall ladders, so remember to follow all safety precautions and check that the person installing them has the relevant insurance. 
  • Never place nest boxes over doors, paths or other high-traffic areas, in case they fall. 

Set up a sparrow street

For thousands of years, House Sparrows have lived alongside people, often making their nests in cosy crevices in buildings. These nooks and crannies are increasingly hard to find in modern buildings, but thankfully House Sparrows will happily take up residence in nest boxes. They’re really sociable birds and love to nest in groups, so take a leaf out of their book and get chatting with your neighbours and work together to provide clusters of boxes throughout your neighbourhood. 

Step-By-Step Guide

Two sparrows at a bird feeder with two people watching from a window in the background.

Create high homes for Swifts

Swifts are amazing little birds. They spend almost their entire lives in the air – sleeping, eating and even mating on the wing – and only land in order to nest in small gaps under roof tiles and the eaves of buildings. Sadly, as old buildings are demolished or renovated, these nest holes are disappearing, leaving Swifts with nowhere to raise a family when they return from Africa in spring. Find out how your community can help give Swifts the homes they need by installing special nest boxes or Swift bricks.   

Two swifts flying over a house roof with an aerial fixed to the top.

Other ways to help Swifts:

  • If you spot Swifts whizzing around at roof level, screaming as they go, please let us know by reporting your sightings on our Swift Mapper. This will help us to locate and protect Swift breeding hotspots.
  • Have a read of our handy guide for lots more ideas on how to help Swifts. Our friends at Swift Conservation and Action for Swifts also have lots of information on how you can help Swifts.  

Help Starlings set up home

If you’re lucky enough to see a flock of boisterous Starlings at a feeder, you’d be forgiven for thinking they must be doing well. But we’ve actually lost more than 80% of our Starlings in the UK since 1970, so they really need our help. Providing special Starling nest boxes is a good option. Since Starlings like to have neighbours, it’s a good idea to put up multiple boxes along your street. 

Get Started

Starling perched on a fence with an insect in its beak with plant stems in the background.

Edinburgh Swift city

Discover Edinburgh’s new Swift cycle trail, which is part of a project to make the city a Swift sanctuary by putting up nest boxes and raising awareness of these amazing birds.

Artists creating sanctuaries for Swifts

Find out how a creative community is combining art with helping Swifts and other wildlife in their neighbourhood.

Greater Manchester’s first Swift Street 

The creation of Greater Manchester’s first Swift Street began in summer 2022, when a local community group was approached by Suez UK, a multinational company whose staff were interested in doing a volunteer day.  

With the help of the Bolton and Bury Swift group and the RSPB, a workshop was set up where Suez staff helped to build Swift nest boxes alongside local residents and volunteers. These boxes were then installed on homes in the neighbourhood thanks to the efforts of local resident Gail, who knocked on doors and signed up 18 Swift box hosts.  

As well as providing much-needed nesting sites for Swifts, the Swift Street project has also strengthened links within the community – the neighbours remain in touch via a WhatsApp group and regularly share their nature sightings (including a charismatic local Hedgehog!).  

Gail said: "It has been brilliant to work together as a street to make this happen. We can’t wait to hear the calls of the Swifts as they return in summer and hopefully choose some of our nests as their home. What’s brilliant is that once Swifts have found a place to call home, they will usually return to the same place each year. Watching the Swifts is as thrilling as seeing the Red Arrows.” 

Take more action for nature in your community
  1. Grow wildlife-friendly flowers
  2. Make a splash with water
  3. Take ownership of green spaces