Wednesday 22 June 2011

Preservation of Swift nests after a Roof Renovation

We heard from Su Gough, BTO training Officer, of her success in preserving Swift nest sites in her roof after a renovation project. It shows what can be done with a little thought and a cooperative roofing contractor:

The circle indicates an occupied nest entrance
Just thought I’d let you know, as I feel this does have relevance to Swift conservation, especially as it means birds can be maintained with minimal effort/cost – but mainly because I am extremely chuffed that Swifts have returned, even after work was completed.

We own a very old end of a terrace in Thetford, Norfolk tiled with pantiles. The existing roof has had numerous Swift nests, under tiles, between tiles and the remains of the felt for years. Old felt had been mostly shredded by generations of Swifts BUT in their defence we believe the felt was from c. 1920s and in many places was turning to ''compost'' as it rotted, so we don't think the Swifts were the prime cause of the felt failing. The roof was failing and failed completely last winter, forcing me to get the felt replaced and tiles re-laid, despite my fear that I may lose the Swifts. The new 'felt' is much thicker and of a different make.

After many hours researching various options to allow the Swifts back after work completed, and discussing with roofers all options we realised that none of the commercially available boxes/tiles/bricks etc would work on my property so the roofers (with advice from AfS members) decided that the best course of action was to raise the corners of some tiles when relaying, to allow the Swifts to go straight back in to the same locations as they were previously. This was just enough to allow the birds in, whilst in no way compromising the weather-proofness of the roof.

I am extremely pleased that the Swifts have happily accepted this arrangement and, indeed, as the roofers left quite a few tiles raised, I think we actually have more nests than in previous years.

Tiles wedged up to allow swifts in
I have to say how understanding the roofers (SK Roofers, Lakenheath) were, even though it meant the finished roof wasn’t as neat and tidy looking as, perhaps, they would have wanted.

The work was completed in Jan (ouch!) in order to avoid disturbance to the Swifts and House Sparrows (we also insisted they left the net out of the eaves, Sparrows spent 3 days on the cherry tree in great distress, but were re-lining their nests within 2 hours of roofers leaving...)


  1. That's really great though what was used to wedge up the tiles?

  2. You could ask the roofing cxontractors: