Why we need your help
Put simply, swifts nest under roofs and in eaves – where you work.
Re-roofing, roof repairs and insulation work are destroying swifts’ nesting places. Swift pairs return to the same nest every year and sadly, they will often go on trying to get into blocked holes until they break their wings and die.
The National Federation of Roofing Contractors recommend ‘swift friendly’ roofing methods as best practice in their guidance here.
Swifts are NOT vermin or pests; they don’t build nests like other birds, just collect a few downy feathers. Swifts make very little noise or mess – the adults clear up their chicks’ waste. Most people don’t even know their house has swifts nesting in it.
How can you help?
By looking for nests:
- in open eaves
- in holes in walls where pipes have been removed
- under flashings around chimneys and skylights
- in gables behind barge boards and on the brick ends
- under roof tiles which are loose or displaced
- on the roof timbers or felt
- where pointing has been washed out
Mid-May to mid-August is breeding season
It is illegal to carry out any roofing work that would disturb nesting swifts.
At other times: ensure that the nesting holes are kept open and nests are left undisturbed. If fitting
new roofing felt / breathable membrane, neaten and secure all edges above the swift nest sites so
that no threads are left dangling, as swifts can get their claws caught in these.
Wherever possible please don’t fit UPVC box soffits
If it’s not possible to leave swift nest sites as they were, please recommend one of these
alternatives to your customers:
- In new soffits, create 45mm holes at least 1.5 metres apart so swifts can gain access, or install soffit boxes for their nests. See the SwiftLoft by Green&Blue and the Eaves nest box – Action for Swifts
- Retrofit swift bricks close to the original nest sites: (British Standard BS 42021:2022) See nhbs – universal swift bricks
- Put up swift nest boxes (as a last resort) see recommended swift boxes by S6 Swifts
What not to use, as they block access for swifts
- UPVC Box Soffits (unless holes have been drilled)
- Dry verge (end caps) on gable ends and apex roofs
- Eaves Comb Fillers (roof combs or brushes)
We’d be more than happy to help
Many building firms are already becoming ‘swift-aware’ and are educating their customers. We hope you will join them.
We cannot save these birds from extinction without your help.
If you would like any further information, clarification, a meeting, or even a site visit, we’d be very pleased to accommodate and talk more about any of the above, including swifts in general and recommended building materials.
Email us here and we’ll respond as soon as we can.