Purposefully Funky Nesting Bricks

A swift looks out of a nest brick. The bricks are helping to restore nesting sites lost to building modernisation. Photograph: Simon Stirrup

Seth first brought our attention to funky nests during his years working for the Celebrate Urban Birds program at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. We have done our best with and without Seth to continue to pay attention to bird nesting, funky or not. This news is more than welcome on the purposefully funky bird nests showing up in the UK:

Securing a swift return: how a simple brick can help migratory birds

Many swifts flying back to Britain will find their summer nests lost to building renovations. But bird bricks are offering them an alternative home

Swifts flock over rooftops in Wiltshire. The migratory birds spend just three summer months in the UK to breed. Photograph: Nick Upton/NPL

Eagerly anticipated by many, it is a thrilling moment when you first hear the distinctive screech or catch sight of the long, tapered wings of the first swifts arriving for the summer. For thousands of years they have looped to the British Isles from Africa to raise the next generation, taking advantage of the long daylight hours in the north and the opportunity to scour the skies for insects from dawn to dusk.

Since they left Britain’s shores in August last year, these remarkable birds will have flown some 14,000 miles without stopping; feeding, sleeping, drinking and preening themselves on the wing. The birds returning now are likely to be at least four years old – the breeders. They head straight back to their nesting holes under eaves or gaps in stone and brickwork that they claimed and defended last summer. Within a few days their mate will arrive and, having spent nine months living independently, they will start to preen each other’s feathers within the nesting hole, crooning softly and bonding once again.

Unfortunately, each year many of these site-faithful birds return to find access to their nest holes blocked by renovation works that have not taken account of their needs. Plastic soffits, fresh mortar or expanding foam may have sealed the entrance – and the fate of these swifts’ nesting opportunities. Modern construction materials virtually exclude them from new buildings.

Common swifts are in perilous decline in the UK. For 23 years the British Trust for Ornithology has recorded a relentless, downward trajectory, with numbers falling by 57% in 22 years. Insect decline is almost certainly a factor, but so too is the loss of nesting sites. Buildings, once permeable to a range of wildlife, from bats to bees, sparrows to swifts, are increasingly closed off to the natural world…

Read the whole story here.

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