We are due to have roof repairs and I wrote to the council about the protocols for swifts and roof repairs. As many readers of this blog know, swifts are my favourite birds. They nest in roofs in this area, though there is no evidence of them living in our roof so far. Edited highlights of the council's reply follow:
'The decline in Swift populations is alarming and they have recently been added to the Amber list of "Birds of Conservation Concern" (see: http://www.rspb.org.uk/news/details.asp?id=tcm:9-219495 )
The main issue for Swifts seems to be the loss of urban breeding sites, particularly where tenement blocks are being refurbished, and my understanding is that refurbishment works must ensure that a building's roof is watertight and airtight before a Building Warrant can be issued. This results in a very strong incentive for builders to block up any existing crevices and gaps, resulting in nest sites being lost.
All roofing and building contractors should be aware that it is an offence under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 to intentionally or recklessly take, damage or destroy the eggs, young or nest of a swift whilst it is being built or in use. So if there are birds nesting in your building then the builders are required to wait until the breeding season has passed.
One of the ways we are trying to help Swifts in Edinburgh is to encourage developers of appropriate new builds to incorporate artificial nest sites (Swift bricks) into their designs.
The Scottish Ornithologist's Club carry out a survey for Swifts in Edinburgh every few years (the last report is available at: www.the-soc.org.uk/docs/edinburgh-swift-survey.pdf ).'
You can read more about Swifts at: www.swift-conservation.org/
We are very pleased to have a roofing contractor who is happy to fit swift nest boxes when he works on the roof.