Some of the best projects

Diligent contractors and developers hold the key to successful swift conservation projects
hole cut in end capping tile
My all-time favourite! Swifts nested under the old ridge tiles. Renovation was postponed to allow young to fledge. A hole was cut in the end capping tile, and the swifts arrived back the next year and carried on as if nothing had happened. And note the house martin nest just below!
concrete lintel
In the same scheme, swifts were nesting on the concrete lintel. Renovation blocked off the ends – but we negotiated with the contractor and Clerk of Works (CoW) to leave off the end fillet, allowing the swifts to continue to get access.
multiple nest sites
Broughton house – Kircudbright. National Trust for Scotland. Nest sites marked and retained during renovation. (Photo Lindsay MacKinlay).
nest site retained
Kilpair St,  Haddington. This site had swifts nesting in 2001 . In spite of alerting LA officers to the fact, no action was taken when an application came up to redevelop. By happy accident or wisdom of the contractor, the top course of stone was not repointed and the gaps remain. Due to deep shadow, photos do not show them!
Culzean Castle
Culzean Castle National Trust for Scotland property. Retained nest site. Gordon Riddle, warden at the time, managed to retain this site as well as installing nest boxes. (photo Gordon Riddle)
St Magdelene's Distillery
St Magdalenes Distillery, Linlithgow redevelopment for flats. Developer and architect Gordon Young of R & G Homes, retained this hole as well as some sites at eaves level, hidden by shadow, and swifts continued to use these sites. (2001-2003)
Kennedy Drive
Kennedy Drive,  Airdrie, North Lanarkshire, boxes made and erected by Tarmac Construction in 1995 – used by swifts. Note that these boxes included an overhang over the entrance.  
Gartloch Road
Gartloch road (boxes made up and erected by Glasgow City Council Housing, 1998). Used by swifts, also include overhang.
Pentland Housing
New flats by Pentland housing built in 2006 on a site where swifts had nested in a (demolished) warehouse. Nest boxes installed and swift calls played. Boxes taken up by swifts (and also sparrows).
Inchture Church
Inchture church, Tayside – nest site successfully retained with the addition of a simple box during renovation 2016 ( pictures from D.Muir )

As a footnote I will add an example from Northumberland – Thirlwell Castle near Greenhead – where the stone mason for the Northumberland National Park Authority marked and retained existing swift nest sites during repair works, ensuring that scaffolding poles did not block nest sites during works. This was around 1998-2000.

Thirwell Castle
Thirlwell Castle near Greenhead

As a result, on a summer evening, you can stand and watch and listen to an amazing display of swift madness as swifts dash around and through the ruins of the castle, their screams amplified by the stone as they dash through the gaps! Had it not been for this one person’s enthusiasm for swifts, no doubt the stone- works would have been treated as other renovation projects, and all gaps and holes mortared up – we can see it too often.