Sustainable UCL


Swift boxes installed on School of Pharmacy building to boost UCL biodiversity

5 October 2016



Swifts are amazing birds which spend the majority of their lives airborne. They sleep, mate and feed on the wing and in total fly the equivalent distance to the moon and back up to 8 times in their lifetime. They spend their winters in Africa in warmer climes but return each spring to the UK.

Swifts in decline from lack of nesting sites


The only time a swift lands is to nest and they are well known for using artificial habitat for their breeding sites; underneath eaves, roof tiles and other nooks and crannies in old buildings. They are sadly in decline and are now listed as an amber species of conservation concern. 

One cause for their decline is that they are running out of nest sites. Modern buildings are so well sealed that locations for nesting are fast disappearing. However, they readily take to nest boxes which provide pockets of space for them to breed in. As they are regularly seen in the skies above the UCL campus over the summer, they are an excellent species for us to target to improve campus biodiversity.

UCL encourages swifts to nest on campus


In an effort to encourage swifts to nest on the UCL central London campus, the Sustainability Team has linked with the Estates Project Team to install swift boxes high up on the School of Pharmacy building. We would like to thank Tony S Marinov from Kirkman & Jourdain Ltd and the rest of the project team, who are carrying out external redecoration works at the School of Pharmacy, for installing the nest boxes for us. We shall keep you updated on the success of the boxes over the next year when we hope the swifts return to use them next spring.

Interested in Biodiversity?

Contact Sustainable UCL for further information green-ucl@ucl.ac.uk