Swift boxes installed at Durham Cathedral


Swifts are being given sanctuary at Durham Cathedral in specially designed wooden nesting boxes.

The species was once common in the city but conservationists say their numbers have declined significantly in recent years. It is hoped the birds will nest in the boxes installed 18 m off the ground within the central tower, which will offer them a degree of seclusion. Attraction calls will also be played from near the boxes to draw them in.

The handmade swift boxes were designed to fit around the cathedral's architecture (Durham Cathedral).

Maya Polenz from Durham Cathedral said: "Our joiners have been building the specially designed boxes over the past few weeks to ensure they are ideal for nesting swifts, as well as fitting precisely within the cathedral's intricate architecture. We're looking forward to seeing how many swifts start to settle into the cathedral tower to build their nests and create a home. We've built in the opportunity to fit an unobtrusive wildlife camera in the future so we can monitor progress."

Common Swifts can fly up to 800 km a day when they migrate, so it is hoped the new boxes will offer them some respite when they return to the city next spring. Each nesting box contains multiple chambers featuring small platforms which they favour and their safety has also been considered with entry holes small enough to keep out larger birds.

Local businessman Edward Twiddy, who financed the project, said: "The cathedral is already home to many wonderful bird and bat species that enjoy the sanctuary of the towers and the cloisters, and helping the swifts to come back year after year from Africa to find perfect nesting conditions felt like a small but right thing to do."