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Swift Boxes

Written by John James, posted on Friday, February 15, 2019

Installing the swift boxesAs part of the RSPB's Oxford Swift City project Christ Church has been donated five swift nesting boxes to put up on a building within the property. Swifts are happiest nesting in cracks and cavities high up on buildings. Because of this, the nest boxes are designed to mimic the sites the birds prefer and are mounted at least 5m above the ground close to the building’s eaves.

The boxes also need to be out of direct sunlight, facing east, west or preferably north, and need clear, unobstructed access for the swifts to zoom in and out. The only time swifts land is to nest, as they eat, drink, mate and even sleep on the wing. They have the ability to put half their brain to sleep at a time, enabling them to fly non-stop.

Because of the nature of most of Christ Church’s buildings and because of their listed building status we are not allowed to attach bird boxes to them, so we have decided to mount the boxes on the north elevations of the new works compound buildings in Christ Church Meadow, adjacent to the new visitor centre (currently still under construction). As swifts are gregarious in nature the boxes have been sited fairly close together.

The nesting boxes have been installed, and we will now keep an eye on them in the hope that the swifts will make use of them on their return to the UK in early May. We will update you in the summer to see how things have progressed.

Swifts are generally in decline, numbers having dropped by 3% per year since 1995 a total decline of over 50%.

For more information on Oxford Swift City and these fascinating birds please visit https://www.rspb.org.uk/our-work/conservation/projects/oxford-swift-city/