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Swift Bricks

We can build nesting spots for birds right into buildings
© Pau Artigas View Large

Common Swifts in Europe nest in eaves and under roof tiles and gables. But modern construction doesn’t have these nooks and crannies, and populations of swifts have been declining. However, there’s a solution called the “swift brick,” a small nesting box that fits right into the wall of a house or office building.

This show is made possible by Jim and Birte Falconer of Seattle, Idie Ulsh, and the Horizons Foundation.

Full Transcript



Swift Bricks

Written by Bob Sundstrom

This is BirdNote.

[Common Swift flight calls,]

The high-pitched calls of Common Swifts zooming overhead. It’s a welcome sound across Europe in the summer. Common Swifts are expert aviators. They do everything in the air - they feed, they mate, they even sleep, while on the wing.

But swifts come to earth to nest - and they don’t mind having humans around when they do. Common Swifts are notorious for building their nests in eaves and under roof tiles and gables. They adapted to take advantage of the structures built by us.

But the newer, sleeker buildings built today don’t have the same kinds of nooks and crannies — and that’s bad news for nesting swifts. In the past 30 years, the number of swifts in Great Britain has fallen by half.

But there’s a clever way for people to help. They’re called “swift bricks” — little nest boxes designed to match the exterior of a building and provide a good nook for a nesting swift.

There are many styles of swift bricks, designed to blend in with all kinds of building materials. The bricks just need to have the right-sized entrance hole and a nesting cavity inside. And the swifts just seem to love them.

Some North American swifts will nest around buildings too. But they prefer larger hollows, like chimneys. We can build them nest sites, too — find out more about Chimney Swift Towers on our website, BirdNote Dot Org.

Until next time, I’m Mary McCann.


Producer: John Kessler

Managing Producer: Jason Saul

Editor: Ashley Ahearn

Associate Producer: Ellen Blackstone

Assistant Producer: Mark Bramhill

Narrator: Mary McCann

Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Recorded by

BirdNote’s theme was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.

© 2019 BirdNote   July 2019

ID#  APUAPU-01-2019-07-08    APUAPU-01


How to create homes for birds like Common Swifts:

Build your own chimney swift tower! Find out more on NC Audubon’s website:

Sights & Sounds

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