Thursday 27 August 2015

A new swift tower in Amersfoort, The Netherlands

Swift towers are going up everywhere from Northern Ireland to Poland, and from England to Germany. The design, materials and methods for erection and maintenance are varied. Do they work? Occupancy rates continue to be modest, so all reports of Swifts using them for breeding are welcome. One thing for sure: they make a bold public statement. So, even if we don't get a return on our effort equivalent to the success of, say, nestboxes in buildings, they have the effect of raising public awareness of the importance of Swift conservation. The latest example of a Swift tower comes to us from the Netherlands. The design is ingenious, with a foldable mast/pole, allowing easy erection and dismantling for maintenance. We wish our Dutch colleagues luck with their venture

Contributed by Marjo van der Lelie

This new Swift tower in Amersfoort, the Netherlands, was designed and built by the Gierzwaluwwerkgroep Amersfoort (Swift Volunteer Group). It is made of red cedar. This type of wood was chosen for its durable and light qualities. The total weight of the tower is 33 kilograms.

On top of the 8 metre pole
The mast is similar to the one used in the Den helder tower. It is a standard product that is generally used for the lighting of sports fields. It is foldable and weighted so it can support the weight of the tower. The mast is 8 meters high. A platform made of galvanised steelplate is welded on top of the mast. The tower is fixed onto this platform with bolts.
Because the mast is foldable the tower is within easy reach for future work: the mast can be lowered using a winch.

Internal structure
The tower contains a small speaker. Electricity is supplied by a solar panel at the back of the speaker. Twice daily the sound of the swifts is played to entice the swifts. The roof of the structure is doubly insulated to prevent high temperatures in the nest boxes. The centre of the structure also contains a ventilation shaft for cooling the nests.

Ready for erection
The Swift Volunteer Group has christened the tower the ‘Hotel Apus’. This hotel has 15 spacious rooms. Every entrance is decorated with a wooden character. Together they make the word ‘GIERZWALUWHOTEL’, Dutch for ‘Swift Hotel’.

The tower was erected on Friday 26 June 2015. Marjo and Fred van der Lelie and Gijs Valkenhoef were the creative and organisational masterminds behind this swift tower. We hope the swifts will soon take up residence!

More information can be obtained from Marjo and Fred van der Lelie at

And here is the movie!

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