Saturday 27 October 2012

The simplest DIY Swift nest-box

If you are carpentarily challenged, but would like to make your own Swift boxes, then here are some simple ideas. The whole thing is assembled from a single plank, and straight saw-cuts.
[for a wider range of DIY designs, see here]

Contributed by Bob Tonks

Dimensions: click picture to enlarge.
If Starlings are a problem then reduce the entrance to 28mm high
Buy a plank 180cm x 15cm x 15mm thick and cut it into pieces: (4 x 375mm, 2 x 120mm, 1 x 40mm).  You should have a small bit left over. Then saw out the entrance from 1 of the long pieces (2cuts 80mm & 45mm resulting in an entrance 65mm x 30mm).

The material can be weather-proof ply or pine. In either case, the wood should be treated externally with a wood sealant.

Then assemble all of the pieces, except for the front, using nails, glue or screws. The front should be screwed on, without nails or glue, so that it can be removed for maintenance and for installation. Installation is by 2 screws through the back into the wall.

Position flush with soffit.
Under the eaves is an ideal place for Swifts
The canopy above the entrance is narrow with a sloping top. It provides some shelter (as well as 'decoration'), but it does not allow predators to perch on it.

This box should not be put anywhere where the rain or sun can fall upon it, so it is only appropriate under horizontal eaves, which are at least 200mm wide.

[Hint, when you make the entrance, aim on the small side, you can always take a file to the edges to make it a little larger. If you make it too large, Starlings will get in].

A variation on the above, providing slightly more shelter for the entrance. It requires the use of a jigsaw and file.

20mm cut from the base and 20mm+wood thickness from the front gives an entrance 28mm across.

Entrance made with cuts of 80mm by 30mm
On the left are two more ideas with entrances in the floor next to the wall; these are equally simple. In both cases, the resulting entrance is 65mm x 30mm.

In both of these cases, the Swift can brace itself against the wall before entry.

Entrance made with cuts 65mm by 45mm

Both of these latter two ideas can be built without a back, provided the wall is not too uneven. The Swifts may get improved purchase on a rough wall.


  1. My partner built a box with a hole in the bottom and attached it to a wall on the roof of our block of flats. The swifts have never come to nest although they inspected it years ago. A side entrance would have been better but the box is no longer accessible as the managing agents have now locked off the roof claiming health and safety precaution...

    1. Swifts like both bottom entrances and side entrances - either way you probably need to play attraction calls to get things going.