The RSPB has joined forces with Barratt Homes and Manthorpe Building Products to develop a brick that doubles as a nesting box for swifts.
The largest nature conservation charity in the UK says that the number of swifts has nearly halved in the last 20 years and that new nesting boxes are required to help recover the numbers as they return to the UK every summer to breed.
Swifts embark on a 6,000 mile migration to nest in the UK, however falling population numbers mean that there are now fewer than 90,000 breeding pairs arriving in the UK, which is down from nearly 150,000 pairs 20 years ago. The decline is partially linked to a reduction in the number of potential nesting sites.
Manthorpe Building Products, a British based manufacturing firm, has worked with Barratt Homes and the RSPB to produce the new swift brick, which is designed for easy incorporation during the construction of new homes.
The first batch of new swift nest boxes have just been fitted at the Kingsbrook development in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire and overall Barratt will install up to 900 swift boxes in new homes at Kingsbrook.
One of the primary aims of the RSPB and Barratt Homes partnership since it launched two years ago has been the provision of more nesting sites for swifts.
By working in partnership, they commissioned the Manthorpe project to develop a new swift nest box design that is easy to install during construction.
Barratt Developments Group Design and Technical Director, Michael Finn, commented: “The bricks are an industry first – they are fully drained, ventilated and are unobtrusive, by matching the colour of the bricks. They also help nurture chicks by giving them room to stand when they hatch.
“Crucially too, they are much, much cheaper than any other swift brick on the market, which will help their uptake.”