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Swift Boxes

 
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Benn



Joined: 18 May 2011
Posts: 295
Location: Rossendale, Lancs

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 20, 2018 2:39 pm    Post subject: Swift Boxes Reply with quote

Anyone ever tried Swift boxes? I did a search and found a short thread from 2011 but none since.

I read an article in the Guardian on Tuesday https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/jul/17/country-diary-metamorphosis-swifts-oxford-university-museum-tower they mentioned a book published in 1956 written by a couple of naturalists. It is called "Swifts in a Tower" and this couple studied swifts in a tower at Oxford university in the 40's and 50's. I have not been able to put this book down since it arrived yesterday. It is well written and totally engrossing.

I am going to fit some swift boxes at the back of the house under the west facing soffits next month. I will fit cameras in each but I am not sure how many boxes but I might be able to accomodate perhaps seven. I have found this excellent site http://www.bristolswifts.co.uk/swift-nest-box-design/ from a Bristol based enthusiast who has experiemented with designs this past 7 years.

When we moved to this house in 1995 there were dozens of Swifts nesting in a nearby Victorian factory in the eaves. Unfortunately it suffered a major fire and the roof was redone and the old entrances were no more. Some moved to a another similar factory a few hundred yards down the road but the numbers declined to two or three pairs. This factory roof is also now being refurbished so they might be excluded from their homes again from next year. I just hope the builders do not disturb the current nests as the chicks will be just about ready to fledge anytime now.

I found out one has to use a speaker system to play Swift calls from nearby the boxes to initially attract them and it could take several seasons to get a nesting pair.

Sorry about the waffling but I am quite excited about this new venture.
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WildlifePaul



Joined: 28 Apr 2015
Posts: 1766
Location: Liverpool

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 20, 2018 8:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Always wanted to try swift boxes, We had a pair nesting next door for many years in a hole under the eves, When next door got the roof done the hole was covered, But still plenty of swifts in my area so these is always something I wanted to try, Because like you said I hear its hard to attract them because they stay loyal to nesting sites.
Will be interesting if you have success Benn straight away, If you do I think I'll invest in one for 2020.
I'll be looking for them updates next year already now! Wishing a year away what are we like? Laughing Roll on the floor laughing

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Benn



Joined: 18 May 2011
Posts: 295
Location: Rossendale, Lancs

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 21, 2018 10:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Will do Paul.

Cannot decide whether to build my own using Mark Glanvilles designs (Bristol Swifts) or buy ready made. As I need a few I think the cost will point towards the former.

My only reservation is that my back house soffit level might not be high enough but realistically this is the only place I can site them unless I evict the four house Martin nests at the front of the house (three storeys here) which isn't going to happen Very Happy

Our garden is raised by about a metre from about two metres from our back door as we are built into a hillside and I know they prefer elevated sites. But my research shows they do nest as low as 1.5 metres. I was going to fit 7 or 8 boxes but I think I will start with 5 just to see if I can attract some.

I will probably fit simply black and white cameras as the insides of the boxes need to be painted black as these birds prefer darker nest sites.

Lots more thinking and research to do! Smile
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WildlifePaul



Joined: 28 Apr 2015
Posts: 1766
Location: Liverpool

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 22, 2018 2:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Benn,
You tried Ebay?
This looks like one of the designs off the site
https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/solid-timber-Nesting-Box/113126988741?hash=item1a56e4dbc5:g:ShAAAOSwuhhXU0BS
£18:45 plus free delivery for 1 box, Alot cheaper than most the swift boxes you can get off birding sites, Plus if you wanted say 2 or more you can make an offer for them and maybe get them a little cheaper
Just a little idea incase you didn't want spend time making them.

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Benn



Joined: 18 May 2011
Posts: 295
Location: Rossendale, Lancs

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 23, 2018 1:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Paul, sorry of the late reply but I've been away for a few weeks.

Thanks for the heads up re the eBay Swift boxes. I had considered them but the base depth looked on the narrow side. I ended up buying four of these from the RSPB, for £29. They are impressively well put together and made out of quality wood: https://shopping.rspb.org.uk/garden-bird-nest-boxes/swift-nestbox.html?gclid=CjwKCAjwtvnbBRA5EiwAcRvnpox38oOSHI1hnYzF8nkrpROg3Jk2KQs74ZDQ3Vam_sa3_u7MeVww9xoCiCsQAvD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds

I am currently staining and modifying them using bits of advice and knowledge gleaned from various Swift enthusiasts sites. It seems they prefer a very dark box and so I've fixed a light and wind baffle near to the entrance. I've also sprayed the entrance areas black on three boxes and sprayed one box completely black on the insides. I hope they will use the half sprayed ones as the cameras will pick them up better against the light wood background.

I have picked up some very cheap B&W IR cameras off Amazon.

I also have to prepare a raised nesting cup at the opposite end to the entrance. Apparently this is crucial and should be about 100mm in diameter and about 12mm deep. I have some special "wide gap" filler to shape a cup cut in a hole cut out of a few layers of fibre board. A few hens feathers are then stuck in with some super glue.

Once I have mounted them I will need to cobble up one of these to broadcast Swift calls in the mornings and evenings to attract them.http://www.saveourswifts.co.uk/attractswifts.htm

Some pictures of the work in progress! Smile PS. thanks for the heads up on the LED lights from Green Feathers, so cheap and no fiddling with power and capacitors! I 've just ordered three for my other boxes!
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Poster: Benn, viewed 2 Time(s)

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WildlifePaul



Joined: 28 Apr 2015
Posts: 1766
Location: Liverpool

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 23, 2018 2:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

All looking good Benn! Dancing Looks like you've really done your research on this, I am excited to see how these do for you, You are certainly doing everything where told they like to impress them so I hope it works, I am really looking forward to seeing the progress in these.

You are welcome about the led lamps, Yes very cheap and very easy to use powers via your camera so great. Also love the fact they have a built in photometer you hang outside the box that turns them off when its going dark so handy for such a cheap product, Very well thought out for whats best for the birds, Once I found out about them I had to share with everyone on here very new product you see only came out February of this year.

Please keep us updated and put some pictures when you have them on the wall benn, I am very interested in the swift boxes.

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Benn



Joined: 18 May 2011
Posts: 295
Location: Rossendale, Lancs

england.gif
PostPosted: Thu Aug 23, 2018 3:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Will do Paul!

Just given them another coat of stain. I wanted to match the colour of my soffits but the blooming colour sample in B&Q was much darker than the actual stain Sad Mad I'll have to see if I have anything darker in my old paint store.

I have managed to fettle a nest cup and have sussed out how to put a sliding door to cover the entrance holes until the swifts arrive in early to mid May. Otherwise the Starlings and Sparrows will no doubt move in!

I think it could take a number of years to attract Swifts as they only usually breed in their third season, the young search out and roost in nest sites in their second year. We used to have quite a large colony nearby but the factory burnt down and although a few pairs nested in another nearby factory roof, it too has just been demolished. I think I only spotted one or two birds in the vicinity this summer. There are some colonies a few miles away so I hope my swift call recordings might attract them. That is if my neighbours do not complain about the noise Laughing

I'll post some pictures up once I mount them. Should be sometime later next week but I need to sort the cameras and cabling out at the same time.
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