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Swift boxes for Wimborne retirement village

McCarthy Stone takes swift action to help save an endangered species of bird from disappearing from our skies.

a building with a garden in front
News and community
Posted 02 April 2024
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Swift action is needed to save these amazing migrating birds 

The Old Market Village, which is made up of the Old Market Gardens retirement bungalows and Market House, assisted living retirement apartments for the over 70s in Wimborne, Dorset, has recently installed four specialist swift nest boxes each with a triple cavity to provide a safe haven for the swifts that migrate thousands of miles from Africa to the UK in early May.  

Swift numbers are in severe decline across the country, having fallen by 60% between 1995 and 2021. In 2021, swifts were added to the ‘red list’ of endangered birds which require urgent support. One of the major contributors to their decline is the loss of nesting sites, typically in the eaves of buildings and often in older properties that are then renovated, blocking off nesting spots. To add to this, most of the UK’s arable land is sprayed with insecticides and pesticides killing off their food sources.  

A unique and resilient bird 

Characterised by their curved wings and forked tail, swifts spend 10 months a year entirely airborne, nesting only to raise their young. Spending their winters in Africa, they migrate 3,400 miles twice a year, stopping to refuel in places like Portugal and France along the way. They cover around 500 miles per day during migration, closing one eye and half of their brain to sleep as they fly.  

A home within our retirement homes 

The 12 swift boxes at the Wimborne development will provide an ideal nesting spot to boost breeding. Each of the hollow boxes can accommodate three pairs of swifts and are obscured from view save for a small entrance hole. In line with RSPB guidelines, the boxes are a minimum of six metres above ground level and are on the north side of the building away from direct sunlight.  

To further promote biodiversity in the local area and protect habitats, McCarthy Stone has also fitted wooden bird boxes in ‘green spots’ around their Wimborne retirement village.  

Promoting sustainability in McCarthy Stone housing  

In 2022, we made it mandatory for all future McCarthy Stone communities to include some form of support for wildlife, from bee bricks and green roofs to beautiful living walls.   

Nicki Beswarick, Divisional Marketing Manager at McCarthy Stone, comments: “At McCarthy Stone, we’re making considerable strides in improving our environmental impact. In 2022, we partnered with the Wildlife Trust Consultancies to help positively contribute to the UK’s national biodiversity and to protect the natural environment.  

“With swifts being close to extinction in the UK, we wanted to help slow the decline by providing new nest sites. The boxes are both easy to install and cost-effective, so there’s no reason we can’t include more of them at our other developments across the country. Not only do they support the local wildlife, but they also help to provide a more tranquil and enjoyable living experience for our homeowners, allowing them to feel closer to nature.”
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