New homes for swifts installed at St Mary’s School

Living Magazines swift boxes at St Marys school Cllr Douris John Bell 3 pupils

St Mary’s Primary School in Northchurch is hoping for new neighbours next spring.

Special swift nest boxes have been installed on the school building after a long delay since last March. The boxes will provide new homes for these wonderful birds, which travel all the way from Africa each year to raise their families in the UK.

St Mary’s school has been working with local community initiative Transition Town Berkhamsted on their Save Our Swifts project, which has been funded by local County Councillor Terry Douris through his Locality Budget. The project will also provide educational resources and activities for the children to learn about this amazing bird and record the activity of swifts at the school and in the local area.

Swift numbers in the UK are plummeting, largely due to the loss of suitable nesting sites. Swifts are migrant birds and return from their wintering grounds in Africa to the same spot each year to breed – usually in buildings, in gaps under roof tiles and eaves. Building renovation and home improvements often lead to long standing nesting sites being sealed up or knocked down. It is therefore important that new nesting sites are created to replace them.

Living Magazines Swift Box InstallationSwifts like to nest high up, preferably at least 5m from the ground, so the boxes had to be installed using a cherry picker – thanks to Ian Draper for organising this feat.

Lynne Osborne, Head Teacher at St Mary’s said: ‘We had the boxes ready to install last March but everything had to be put on hold during lockdown. We are so excited to finally be getting the boxes installed and will be watching carefully next spring to see if we get any new residents!’

John Bell, member of Transition Town Berkhamsted and St Mary’s parent said: ‘We know swifts are in real trouble but they are known to nest in the area around the school and have been seen circling and ‘screaming’ nearby. This new nesting site could be a real benefit to our local colony and help to secure its future, so it’s brilliant that St Mary’s has been able to carry out this project on the school building.’