Friday 21 June 2013

First occupant in a heat-proof box

UPDATE August 2013 The first occupants succeeded in raising 2 chicks
UPDATE 2014: 2 chicks raised
UPDATE 2015 & 2016: 2 chicks raised both years
UPDATE 2017: the birds have returned
UPDATE 2018: 3 chicks successfully fledged

Written by Dick

It is that time of year when many people are waiting for their first Swift to occupy their new boxes. Some people will have spent some years at it, but others are more fortunate. Judith Wakelam is one person who would dearly love to have Swifts nesting on her bungalow, she spends many hours every year rehabilitating Swifts. She also provided the inspiration for the successful nest-boxes in her local church in Worlington. Her bungalow is barely suitable. The only location high enough is the apex of the south-facing gable end.

A few years ago, we built some prototype nest boxes to see if one could control the temperature on a south-facing wall. By building a double-walled box, similar to a Zeist, and taking temperature measurements on hot days, we convinced ourselves that it was possible.

One of these prototypes has sat in my garage ever since, until I suggested to Judith that she try it on her south-facing gable end. We installed the box on the 24th May, as well as a tweeter driven by the AfS Box of Swifts.

The box is made of 12mm marine plywood, with an air gap between the two layers of ply on the sides and the top. The slope-backed front means the mid-day sun cannot hit the front of the box. The whole thing is painted with Sandtex, mixed with grit to simulate bricks, which, fortuitously, matched Judith's bricks quite well. The tweeter is installed on the underside of the box. Photo Judith Wakelam
Well, we are happy to report that Judith now has two Swifts happily going in and out of her newly installed box, let's hope they stay.

A Swift enters for the first time. Always an exciting moment both for the Swift and for the owner!
The Swift seems to be making good use of the 'landing platform' below the entrance.
Photo Judith Wakelam


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