Swifts are plain, sooty brown, medium-sized aerial birds that breed in the UK but winter in Africa.
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) report that the number of swifts has almost halved in 20 years down from almost 150,000 breeding pairs arriving in the UK to less than 90,000. They argue that this decline can be linked to a reduction in potential nesting sites.
Nesting accommodation for swifts built in to buildings is preferable to accommodation retrofitted onto the outside. Swift bricks provide a mechanism for building nesting accommodation for swifts into brickwork. They are available from a range of suppliers and can be embedded into walls below the eaves. Ideally swifts brick should fit within a multiple of standard UK brick sizes to make them easier to install.
Swift bricks typically encroach into the wall cavity, or even span the cavity. If they are placed under the eaves, or under a fascia boards, this is generally not be a problem, however lower locations may need to incorporate a cavity tray to prevent water penetration. Swift bricks should not overheat on south-facing walls, but if they have a thin front wall, they should not be placed in the sun, but should be sheltered under the eaves.
In 2016, Manthorpe Building Products, RSPB and Barratt Homes collaborated on the creation of a new swift brick, designed to be easily incorporated into new homes. 900 will be fitted at the Kingsbrook development in Aylesbury.
Michael Finn, group design and technical director at Barratt Developments said, “The bricks are an industry first – they are fully drained, ventilated and are unobtrusive, by matching the colour of the bricks. They also help nurture chicks by giving them room to stand when they hatch. Crucially too, they are much, much cheaper than any other swift brick on the market, which will help their uptake. We actively want other developers to use the brick so we can all help build swift populations. It’s a great example of how we are working together with the RSPB and the wider industry to support nature.”
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Biodiversity offsetting.
- Cavity tray.
- Cavity wall.
- Ecological Impact Assessment EcIA.
- Ecological network.
- Ecological survey.
- Eco-Management and Audit Scheme.
- Environmental impact assessment.
- Environmental plan.
- Environmental policy.
- Great crested newt.
- Japanese knotweed.
- National nature reserves.
- Natural England.
- Preliminary ecological appraisal.
- Protected species.
Featured articles and news
3 ways the world’s fastest growing economies can close the infrastructure gap.
The sooner early warning notices can be appreciated as of mutual benefit rather than one-sided advantage, the better.
BSRIA responds to government green storage announcement.
What is phenomenology and how does it relate to the built environment?
Read about Belgrade's Brutalist landmark - the Western City Gate.
Read about the measures that can be taken by individuals to protect and minimise exposure to outdoor sourced air pollution.
Government announces leaseholds on new-build houses will be banned.
Transport Secretary announces public consultation into London's funding of Crossrail 2.
Have a look at some of the most impressive concert stage designs of all time, including Pink Floyd, U2, Rolling Stones, and more...
What is the Home Quality Mark? Find out how it can help you when buying/renting a new home.
Business Secretary launches £246m Faraday Challenge to establish UK as world leader in battery technology.
Government announces new plans for regulations to improve safety and security awareness of drone users.
Read our introductory article to the various different types of fuel.