RSPB
Skip navigation
Print page

Roofs for wildlife

House martin

Image: John Markham

House sparrows, starlings, house martins and swifts depend on buildings for nest sites. The last two species are almost completely dependent on them. Roofs are also important habitats for roosting bats.

Opportunities for birds to share your house are greatest in older properties. Modern building techniques and renovation materials can prevent their access, unless you provide specific opportunities.

Our top five tips

There are five steps for safeguarding existing nest sites or creating new ones in your roof: 

  • Where possible, leave existing nest holes alone and work around them when carrying out repairs and renovations.
  • If this isn't possible, fit an internal nest box behind the replacement material. Position the box and make a hole in the new material at exactly the same location as the original nest site.
  • Utilise the existing roof or fascia and soffit design to create new nest sites. Make appropriately sized holes in suitable locations.
  • In new builds or extensions, fit a pre-fabricated swift brick into the fabric of the wall during construction or put internal nest boxes behind the fascias and soffits.
  • If none of the above are possible, use externally fitted nest boxes.

Nestboxes for the roof

If you're in the process of purchasing or building a new house or extension, ask either the developer or builder to fit internal nestboxes for swifts, house sparrows or starlings into the design of the building. You could also fit external nextboxes. More...

Nestboxes for the roof

Protecting nest sites in roofs

Considering renovations? You can help the birds that may be nesting in your roof by protecting existing nest sites. More...

Protecting nest sites in roofs

Green roofs

Green roofs have been used extensively on the continent for some time and are now becoming more popular in the UK. Mosses and lichens will grow naturally on most roofs, but a green roof is intentionally designed to support vegetation. More...

Green roofs