Sunday 17 June 2012

St Rémy Church, Molenbeek, Brussels

Contributed by Martine Wauters, words by Dick

St Rémy Church with one cabinet installed
This is an interesting story about how to provide accommodation for Swifts, in a most beautiful building, without any obvious way of hiding nest-boxes behind louvres or in a window. Martine Wauters approached me (Dick) in Berlin to suggest ideas. After a number of unsatisfactory attempts, we eventually came up with the idea of a louvred cabinet of nest-boxes placed at the bottom of the large openings on each side of the tower. It is important that the boxes were painted in a colour that matches the stonework.

In the final analysis, we think we have achieved our goal of providing quality accommodation for Swifts without offending the beauty of the building, even though the cabinets are fully visible from the outside.

As is normal with almost any project like this, there are always problems. In this case, the original idea was to have the lowest box entrances outside the wall of the church. On installation, this was found to not be possible, so the boxes were raised to allow the Swifts to enter these lowest entrances. The gaps below the cabinets probably need to be blocked. More serious, the boxes were originally a little too wide, so "adjustments" were needed.

The execution of this project has been exemplary, in particular, the carpentry by Philippe Jacob is most professional. It is refreshing that church officials can accept and support an idea like this. One cannot wait for the sight of Swifts circling this wonderful tower.

The pictures below tell their own story of how the project was conceived, the boxes built, and the installation accomplished. Click on any picture and you will see them all enlarged.

Google Sketchup model of cabinet

The team with completed carpentry, from left to right:
Marie-Christine Séron & Jacques Vanneck (church council representatives)
Jan Gypers (alderman in charge of the environment), 
Martine Wauters and Chris Mallia (ringer & neighbour, project initiator)

Exhausted after climbing the tower

Installation in progress

Both cabinets installed

Close up of one cabinet

A Swift's view from the tower


  1. I know a site that could use swift boxes in this position but access is via a small trap door.

    N Ireland

  2. With small trap doors you need to make all the pieces, then assemble the box up the tower. We had to do that once in Kirtlington, Oxon.