This is the new swift nesting tower on Paris St roundabout, installed over weekend of 27-28 June.
Swifts are believed to be suffering a national decline, partly due, it is thought, to lack of nesting sites. These are urban birds, which presumably find our tall urban buildings to be similar to vertical cliffs, and feed on the aerial plankton of invertebrates in updrafts and thermals. Their swooping free-flying around the rooftops on a summer's day is exhilarating to watch. This year I've not seen or heard so many swift screaming parties around St David's, but colleagues report plenty zooming around around Newtown and Heavitree. As they have come, Exeter has built it.
Around the base of the tower is wildflower planting. Will it all work? At ~8.5m high, is the structure a bit low? Though it is known swifts can nest at 5m height. One of the advantages of swift boxes is that, even if swifts themselves don't use them, many other species can, including house sparrows, populations of which have their own recent and drastic decline to deal with. Yesterday there were several sparrows enjoying bashing about among the poppies and cornflowers at least.
A number of urban swift conservation projects are running in the UK, which on a national scale this would help contribute towards. Some more information about these, and about the decline of swifts, is below.
Exeter Wild City www.devonwildlifetrust.org/swifts/
Cambridge, a similar art/ecology project
Swift conservation news www.swift-conservation.org/
Examples of building projects www.swift-conservation.org/OurProjects.htm
I understand the funding was planning gain money dedicated to art/ecological projects, and wouldn't otherwise have been available.
|An earlier design, from Exeter City Council website|