Swifts already nest in a corner of the nave roof at All Saints Church in Laxfield, and in 2022 the Eco Church group were delighted to construct an additional eight Swift boxes inside the louvres of the tower.
The Swifts are encouraged to investigate the new nest sites by playing their calls next to the boxes using an unobtrusive cheap automated speaker system.
The nest boxes are enclosed so that the birds can’t get into the tower, they require little maintenance, are not visible from the outside and don’t get in the way.
None of the boxes were occupied in 2022, as it can take several years for Swifts to take up residence; as they return to the same nest site every year, it will be the young birds that use the new nestboxes.
Mike Turton said "Last year Swifts were seen flying up to the louvres to investigate the boxes and we are praying that our new Swift boxes will have new families in them soon".
Swifts return to England each summer to breed, but their numbers are rapidly declining across the country, and are now birds of urgent conservation concern. They have declined by 58% between 1995 and 2018 and by 41% in just 10 years up to 2018, that is over 5% per annum! The main driver of their population decline is loss of nesting sites – they typically nest in building crevices or under roof tiles and, when property owners carry out repairs, they often block out the Swifts.
For more information on swifts in Suffolk go to SOS Swifts at www.suffolkbirdgroup.org/sos-swifts.
Mike Turton is volunteer member of the Diocesan Environment Group and the Environment Deanery Champion for the Hoxne and Hartismere Deanery. Mike says, "I see the environment as a wonderful way to open the church to all members of our community. If you are looking for advice or help to get started, I regularly visit other churches to talk about biodiversity in our churchyards and how we can connect to others through our calling of protecting the environment. I would love to come and visit you".