|Feathers added by a pair of Swifts to a concave|
Photo Judith Wakelam
This year we put 18 new nest boxes in Worlington church, again with a concave in every other box. So 9 with and 9 without a concave. We have checked the boxes and 6 boxes were occupied, 5 with a concave and just 1 without. The probability of this result by chance is lower at 6.6%.
Neither of these experiments passed the statisticians test for 'confidence' of 5%, but together, they do.
The probability of both of these results occurring by chance is
So now we can be sure that Swifts do prefer boxes with concaves.
|2 chicks on a concave. Photo Rob Mungovan|
Not only that, but 2 of the Worlington boxes contained chicks, (as did 2 first time occupants in Landbeach church) supporting the assertion that breeding in the first year of occupancy is more likely in a nest-box with a concave.
So, on our next visits to St Mary's and Worlington we will insert a concave in all unoccupied nestboxes.
We need more experiments like this e.g.:
Dark interior versus light interior
Oval entrance versus rectangular entrance
Rough exterior versus smooth exterior
Large box versus small box
[For the technically minded, for the statistics I used the Excel HYPGEOM.DIST() function.]
Postscript 2016: Since the above, George Candelin sent me the results after putting 12 concaves into 52 boxes in the Oxford Museum Tower. After the first season 6 boxes were occupied, 3 with concaves and 3 without. The probability of this result occurring by chance, assuming that Swifts have no preference is 12.73%. Combining this with the 2 results above (10.7% and 6.6%) using Fisher's Method gives a significance level of 2.92%