New houses will not only provide a home for people - but also a species of bird which is in decline.

Bolton at Home is now starting to install Swift bricks into the brickwork of their new build properties which provide a safe place for the species to raise their young.

Swift bricks, are a box with a brick at the front matching the brick colour, which allow birds to nest inside.

Every year, Swifts fly around 250,000 miles and spend most of their lives in the sky where they feed, mate and even sleep.

Swifts pair for life and will return to the same nesting site.

However, Swift numbers have declined by half in the last 20 years due to old buildings being renovated with plastic covering the cracks and holes where they previously nested, including buildings which have new roofs.

To help with the population, Bolton at Home have included swift bricks at their St Osmund's new build scheme on Blenheim Road in Breightmet and also retrofitted them on some of their other properties in preparation for when the swifts return to the UK to nest.

Working in partnership with local conservation group Bolton and Bury Swifts, the housing association is asking residents to help protect the birds by planting wildflowers to attract pollinating insects which swifts like to eat.

Louise Bentley, who set up the Bolton and Bury Swifts conservation project said: “Swifts are a migratory bird, similar to Swallows, but they nest in the eaves of buildings, in houses quite commonly.

“They are superb ariel acrobats reaching speeds of up to 70mph when they display around their colony in summer, and they are known as a true sign of summer because they are only with us for a short period of time.

The Bolton News: Bolton at Home installing swift bricks which provide a safe place for them to raise their youngBolton at Home installing swift bricks which provide a safe place for them to raise their young (Image: Bolton and Bury Swifts)“They are very thrilling to watch but sadly their numbers are declining because of roofing renovations blocking them out of their homes because they are faithful to the exact hole in a house which they may have found to nest on.

“A pair will return to the same tiny little hole, they don’t do any damage and they will return for maybe up to ten years each year.

“They will meet their partners at the nest site and then they will migrate separately but then the male and female will then meet up again each May at the same nesting hole.

“And then they raise one breed of young and they all migrate back in the autumn.

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“However, people who have the nesting are often not aware that they have them nesting so they might have a new roof done for example and not realise that they are blocking out the Swifts.”

Louise said the new initiative will help to stop the decline in the species.

She said: “With Bolton at Home they own a lot of properties where there are Swift colonies so that is why it is important we work with them because they have got the power to really protect the colonies on their estates.

The Bolton News: Bolton at Home have also retrofitted them on some of their other propertiesBolton at Home have also retrofitted them on some of their other properties (Image: Bolton and Bury Swifts)

“It is a good idea that Bolton at Home are adding Swift bricks to their properties because Swifts are a building dependant species, they don’t nest in trees, so all the buildings are being renovated and they are losing their homes that way and new homes don’t provide any opportunities.

“So, it is just a lovely small field of space in the Swift bricks, they can't go anywhere else within the building, they are just in that little brick, and they can breed, and they house sparrows as well.

“It provides a lovely, sealed space and helps to stop the decline in the Swift species.”

The Swift species can be found at various locations across Bolton including in Farnworth on the Flower Estate, Mayfield Avenue in Little Lever, Lever Park Avenue in Horwich, the Thicketford Road area, Crompton Way area and Tonge Moor.

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