Step-by-Step Guide: Building Your Own Swift Nest Box


If you live in Zeist, or in many other places across the world, you may have noticed the decline in swift populations. These birds rely on natural nest sites, such as old cherry, or cool roofs with deep eaves, but these habitats have been in decline. Having a swift nest box can help to add new nesting opportunities for these birds.

A swift nest box is a tower or group of boxes designed for swifts to nest in. Maintenance is key to a successful nest box. It needs to be easily accessible, so that you can clean out old nests and make sure new ones are added every year. The nest box should be placed at the right height and orientation, with the entrance hole facing downwards, to protect the nest from predators.

There are different versions of swift nest boxes available, from the simple DIY models to more elaborate designs. The Glanville Swift Tower is a popular choice, with its modular construction and easy installation. Jonathan Rother, from, has created his own version of the nest box, which features a double-floor system for insulation and wiring.

When building a swift nest box, you can use bricks or mortar, but it’s important to glue the bricks together to create a solid structure. The nest box should be installed under the eaves of your house, at a height of around 30 feet. Make sure it is level and securely screwed into place.

If you’re not confident in your DIY skills, you can hire a professional to build and install a swift nest box for you. This is the safest option, as they have the experience and knowledge to ensure the nest box is of the highest quality.

So, if you want to help the swift population, consider building or installing a swift nest box. It’s a simple and effective way to provide housing for these amazing birds. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Choose a suitable location for the nest box, under the eaves of your house, at a height of around 30 feet.
  2. Build or buy a swift nest box that meets the right dimensions and specifications.
  3. Install the nest box securely, making sure it is level and screwed into place.
  4. Maintain the nest box by cleaning out old nests and adding fresh ones every year.

By following these steps, you can play a crucial role in providing nesting opportunities for swifts and help to reverse their declining populations.

Swift Nest box

If you are interested in providing a home for swifts, building a nest box is a great way to help these birds. Swifts are small, aerial birds that are known for their acrobatic flight and their ability to spend almost their entire lives in the air. Unfortunately, swift populations have declined in recent years due to a lack of suitable nest sites, such as chimneys.

To build a swift nest box, you can follow the instructions provided by ebird or Swift Conservation. Both organizations have detailed plans and materials lists available on their websites.

When choosing a location for your nest box, it’s important to consider the specific needs of swifts. Swifts like to nest in high places, so ideally, the box should be placed about 30 feet above the ground. It’s also important to have open space in front of the box, as swifts need to have enough room to maneuver in and out.

Before installing the nest box, make sure that there are no obstacles in the way, such as branches or wires. Also, check the stability of the area where you plan to install the box. The box should be attached securely to the wall using bricks or screws.

When building the box itself, use materials that are durable and weather-resistant. Plywood or solid wood is a good choice for the walls, and metal or slate can be used for the roof. Make sure to add ventilation holes and drainage gaps to ensure that the nest box stays dry. In the inside of the box, you can add a nesting cup or platform made of wood or a similar material to provide a comfortable place for the birds to lay their eggs.

Finally, when installing the nest box, make sure that it is placed at the correct angle. Swifts prefer a slight downward slope of about 10-15 degrees. Also, make sure that the entrance hole is at least 2 inches across to allow the birds to enter and exit easily.

Building a swift nest box can be a fun and rewarding conservation project. By providing suitable housing for swifts, you can help contribute to the conservation of these amazing birds.

How to Make a Swift Nest Box

Swifts are small birds known for their exceptional flying skills and unique nesting habits. If you want to keep these fascinating birds around your own space, you can make a swift nest box to provide them with a suitable nesting site.

Gather the Materials

Before you start building the nest box, make sure you have all the necessary materials. You will need:

  • Quality wood battens of the right size
  • Screws
  • Wood glue
  • Cherry wiring
  • Double nest-form
  • Swift call recordings (available on or

Build the Nest Box

Now that you have all the materials, follow these steps to build the swift nest box:

  1. Start by marking the dimensions on the wood battens, ensuring enough space for the birds to roost comfortably.
  2. Cut the battens according to the marked dimensions.
  3. Glue the battens together to form the sides of the nest box.
  4. Screw the battens together at the corners to secure them in place.
  5. Add a double nest-form inside the nest box to provide a suitable nesting spot for the swifts.
  6. Attach the cherry wiring to the outer part of the nest box to give the birds a landing spot and encourage them to use the box.

Installing the Nest Box

Once the nest box is built, you need to find the right spot to install it. Swifts prefer high locations, so the ideal place is under the eaves or in chimneys. Make sure the nest box is securely fixed using screws.

If you want to install the nest box under the eaves, you can use a ladder to reach the area. However, if you plan to place it in the chimney, you may need professional help. Some councils offer swift conservation groups or organizations that can assist you with installing the nest box in chimneys.

Having a swift nest box in your home not only provides a safe and suitable nesting spot for these birds but also contributes to their conservation. Swifts face habitat loss, so creating nesting opportunities can help encourage their population growth.

So, why wait? Build a swift nest box and give these incredible birds a home above your own!

Hastings and Rother Swift Conservation Group

The Hastings and Rother Swift Conservation Group is a community organization dedicated to protecting and preserving the swift population in the Hastings and Rother area. They work towards providing suitable housing for swifts, ensuring their habitat is maintained, and raising awareness about the importance of swift conservation.

The group has climbed many buildings in the area to install swift nest boxes. One example is the cherry picker, which allows them to reach the eaves of buildings where swifts normally roost and nest. They mark the chosen locations and then work to build the swift nest boxes.

To build the swift nest boxes, they use double bricks and battens that are screwed together. The installation process involves placing the nest boxes above the eaves, where they are attached to the brickwork at an angle. This is done to ensure easy access for the swifts, as they prefer nest boxes that are slightly angled upwards.

If you want to build your own swift nest boxes, you can find detailed instructions on the Hastings and Rother Swift Conservation Group website or visit the Audubon Society’s website at for more information.

When making the nest boxes, it is important to use high-quality materials to ensure their longevity. The group also recommends considering the maintenance of the nest boxes, such as cleaning them out after each nesting season.

In addition to installing nest boxes, the group also works to protect existing swift nesting sites. They collaborate with the local council to ensure that swifts can access and use chimneys and other suitable structures for nesting.

If you notice swifts nesting in your area or if you have a suitable building where swifts could roost, you can contact the Hastings and Rother Swift Conservation Group for assistance. They offer guidance and support to help create a swift-friendly environment.

Add a swift nest box to your house

If you want to help the swifts, consider adding a nest box to your house. Here’s how you can do it:

What you’ll need:

  • Battens
  • Screws
  • Angle brackets
  • Swift nest box system
  • Swift tower system
  • Glanville Fritillary nest box

First, find a suitable place on your house to install the nest box. Swifts prefer high places like gables or the sides of towers. Make sure there are no obstacles blocking their flight path, and that the nest box can be easily accessed for maintenance.

Next, determine the size and type of nest box you want to build. Jonathan Glanville’s swift nest box system is a popular choice, but there are other versions available as well. The size of the nest box will depend on the number of swifts you want to accommodate.

When building the nest box, start with the floor and walls. Use bricks or wooden panels to make the structure sturdy. Line the inside of the nest box with wiring to provide a textured surface for the swifts to grip onto.

Once the nest box is complete, it’s time to install it. Place the nest box at least 5 meters above the ground, preferably near your house’s gables or chimney. Use angle brackets and screws to secure it to the brickwork or soffit.

Now, the nest box is ready for the swifts to use. Keep in mind that it may take some time for them to discover it, so be patient. Monitor the nest box and report any swift activity to ebird to contribute to their conservation efforts.

Adding a swift nest box to your house is a great way to support these amazing birds. It not only provides them with a safe place to roost and breed, but it also helps increase their population. So, consider making a nest box and make your house a welcoming home for swifts!

The Model 30 nest box

The Model 30 nest box is a specially designed nesting structure for swifts. It consists of bricks arranged in a tower-like structure, creating a nest-form that mimics their natural habitat. This nest box is also known as the Camden swift tower and can be found above the normal call of the swift. It is a project by Glanville Conservation, a company specializing in creating habitats for swifts.

If you want to build a Model 30 nest box, here’s how:


To build the Model 30 nest box, you will need battens, bricks, and mortar. The bricks are installed in a specific pattern and the battens act as supports to keep the structure in place.


Start by installing the wiring needed for the nest box. This wiring is provided by and helps guide the swifts to the nest box. Once the wiring is in place, start laying the bricks according to the specified pattern. Make sure to keep them in line and level to create a sturdy structure. The nest box should be installed near a chimney or on a high point of the roof.


The Model 30 nest box is designed to provide swifts with a deep, safe, and secure home. It is angled to provide a comfortable roosting environment for the birds. The black color of the bricks helps absorb heat, creating an ideal nesting spot. It is important to note that swifts are known for having a high-pitched call and can be noisy neighbors, so keep this in mind when choosing the location for your nest box.

If you notice swifts in your area or want to help conserve their population, consider installing a Model 30 nest box. It provides them with a suitable habitat and can contribute to their conservation efforts. The Model 30 nest box is now easier to build and install, thanks to the work of Jonathan Zeist, who has created modified versions of the original design. So get started and create a safe haven for these amazing birds!

✿ Read More: Gardening Tips and Advice.

Dr Heidi Parkes

By Dr Heidi Parkes

Senior Information Extension Officer QLD Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries.