Swift 100 – Nestbox building and project page

One of the main aims of the Cornwall Swift Project is to build and install 100 Swift boxes this spring in readiness for the main arrival of breeding birds in May.

We hope to run nest building sessions later this spring, please keep an eye out on the news section on the website and our social media channels (twitter and Facebook) for details of forthcoming events. We will also add any to this page as they arise. If you want to get involved, or think you can help with organising an event or providing materials please do get in touch.



BristolSwifts Nestbox building page comprehensive information, instructions and materials list

RSPB Nestbox building page – Instructions and materials list

Swift-Conservation Nesting boxes page – lots of links to nestbox design and extra information

Action-for-Swifts Nestbox design page – lots of nest box designs

Swift nestboxes (G Roberts)

External nestboxes – ideally untreated FSC-certified timber should be used. Finished boxes can cost as little as £10 per box depending on sourcing of materials, bought nestboxes are around £30 for responsibly sourced ones..

Swift Bricks – these are designed to be incorporated by suitably qualified persons into new builds or refurbishments and are the preferred choice over external nestboxes where practical.


Siting of Nestboxes

As Swifts are colonial species it is highly preferable for boxes to be grouped, especially in or adjacent to areas where swifts are already nesting.

External boxes should not be situated facing due south and into direct sunlight unless under suitable overhang for shade, and care should be taken to ensure they are fixed firmly and away from potential water ingress. Swifts rarely nest below 5m and boxes should ideally be higher than this with clear access for swifts to approach and exit. See above main links for more information.

If you wish to make or install boxes but don’t have a suitable site we would love to hear from you and will work to help locate a suitable site or another siting project near you.

Other species such as House Sparrows, Great Tits and Starlings may use the boxes. Whilst the design of swift nestboxes has been optimised for swifts, this is not the end of the world by any means. These species need to nest too!

Further questions? –

How will swifts find the box? One way to attract swifts to potential nest boxes is with a relatively inexpensive playback device (see more here – link to follow) which can cheaply and safely be used to play calls of Swifts with the aim of helping birds find the suitable nesting sites.

How to keep other birds from using the nestboxes? Keeping the holes closed over until early May (after sparrows have already started nesting) and no bigger than 28mm (to stop Starlings entering) will help in restricting nestboxes to swifts. However, a larger hole size is better for swifts generally speaking.

Health and Safety

Children and young persons should not handle tools and materials without appropriate adult supervision. All power tools, cutting tools and materials should be treated with respect.

Safe working at height – it is inadvisable to work alone. Ladders or other devices should be used properly. Do not attempt to fix/install boxes if you do not have the required expertise.

Nestbox building and installation is carried out at y
our own risk. If in doubt seek a qualified professional builder/craftperson. Be sensible and take care!

Swift (and House Sparrow) nestboxes in Plymouth – Bruce Taggart

Recommended suppliers

If you have a site for an internal or external box, and wish to purchase a box there are a number of options available.

A google search for ‘swift nestboxes’ should come up with plenty ofresults from such suppliers as NHBS (swift bricks for under £30) and the RSPB. This box seems excellent with good credentials: Peakboxes – swift boxes. Budget box on ebay (will need painting with a suitable wildlife-friendly paint or stain). Various boxes can also by purchased via links at Swift-conservation.


We aim to keep this page updated with nestbox building sessions and installations carried out this year. Please send details, including name and town, with any photos if possible to swifts@cbwps.org.uk  It would be great to be able to publicise the work being carried out to help save our swifts this year!

Main page – Save Our Swifts – A Conservation Project for Cornwall