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Swift Box Noise Problem (1 Viewer)

ABSABS

New member
Hello All - I think I need some advice.

I’m ashamed to say I’m not very interested in birds at all – although my wife has a very keen interest. I live on a typical modern housing estate and around the end of May some neighbours installed ‘swift boxes’ in the eves of their house. To help attract the birds they are playing an audio recording of swift noises on speakers. It’s on an endless loop that runs from early morning until around just after dark. The noise repeats every 10 seconds with 5 seconds of swift sounds then 5 seconds silence. I find it quite a bit louder than the background bird chatter. Very occasionally it’s turned down, and just resonantly the have occasionally switched it off. It wouldn’t be so bad if it was just a week or so, but now it’s being going on for a month and a half it’s really getting to me to the extent I can’t go out in the garden anymore. Perhaps I’m oversensitive to that particular frequency, but it’s having a similar effect on me to finger nails down a blackboard. Even when I’m sitting in my living room , and with the windows open, the sound penetrates over the television.

Now, I know I’m being very mean spirited, and setting up the boxes is a really nice thing to do for the birds– but it’s driving me nuts and so I’d really appreciate some thoughts from an ornithologists perspective. I’m especially keen to find out if it’s necessary to help the swifts. If it’s just there because it means my neighbours will have swifts on their house as opposed to somewhere else I’ll find it hard to be accepting, but on the other hand if you indicate that swifts are endangered and it will really help them out then I will find it a lot easier to sympathise ?

Thanks in advance

David
 

jzmtl

Well-known member
Sounds like a major pain in the butt. I'd talk to the neighbor to turn it off, if he refuses go see if your local government has some sort of noise ordinance.

This is the first time I've ever heard of this method actually, if I had to guess it'll drive potential nesters away instead of attracting them.
 

MSA

I may be relaxed but I'm not drunk....
If it works it will be extremely beneficial to the Swifts - they are declining in part because new houses (and renovated old houses) have no gaps between fascia and roof, so the Swifts have no access to roof voids where they like to nest.

However, Swifts will be leaving any time now - they won't start nesting this late in the summer, so the tape can safely be switched off. I doubt that it needs to be on for more than mid-May to mid-June.
 
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Mayo Corncrake

Well-known member
Hello All - I think I need some advice.

I’m ashamed to say I’m not very interested in birds at all – although my wife has a very keen interest. I live on a typical modern housing estate and around the end of May some neighbours installed ‘swift boxes’ in the eves of their house. To help attract the birds they are playing an audio recording of swift noises on speakers. It’s on an endless loop that runs from early morning until around just after dark. The noise repeats every 10 seconds with 5 seconds of swift sounds then 5 seconds silence. I find it quite a bit louder than the background bird chatter. Very occasionally it’s turned down, and just resonantly the have occasionally switched it off. It wouldn’t be so bad if it was just a week or so, but now it’s being going on for a month and a half it’s really getting to me to the extent I can’t go out in the garden anymore. Perhaps I’m oversensitive to that particular frequency, but it’s having a similar effect on me to finger nails down a blackboard. Even when I’m sitting in my living room , and with the windows open, the sound penetrates over the television.

Now, I know I’m being very mean spirited, and setting up the boxes is a really nice thing to do for the birds– but it’s driving me nuts and so I’d really appreciate some thoughts from an ornithologists perspective. I’m especially keen to find out if it’s necessary to help the swifts. If it’s just there because it means my neighbours will have swifts on their house as opposed to somewhere else I’ll find it hard to be accepting, but on the other hand if you indicate that swifts are endangered and it will really help them out then I will find it a lot easier to sympathise ?

Thanks in advance

David

Somebody is trying to help a fast declining species in the UK/Ireland and your whinging about it. Get over it. I have swift nest box up also and play the lure from dawn to dusk all summer. 3 years trying and no success yet, but I will keep trying.
 

jzmtl

Well-known member
Somebody is trying to help a fast declining species in the UK/Ireland and your whinging about it. Get over it. I have swift nest box up also and play the lure from dawn to dusk all summer. 3 years trying and no success yet, but I will keep trying.

That's freakin retarded. Some people are more sensitive to certain noise and what may not sound like much to you is like playing death metal next to their ear. If the guy looked up this forum just to ask the question it obviously bothers him quite a bit, and you tell him to suck it up?

And if it haven't worked in 3 years, perhaps you should take a hint that it doesn't work.
 
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King Edward

Well-known member
I also put up some Swift boxes last year, and have also been playing the calls, so I can appreciate that the noise can be irritating. Fortunately haven't had any complaints yet. I do try to keep the noise to a reasonable level - it's a balance between attracting the birds and disturbing the neighbours.

We haven't had any actually nesting yet, but groups of 2-6 Swifts have been responding strongly to the calls (i.e. flying noisily round the house in their display flight, and looking for nest sites around where the boxes are. Just recently (this week) I saw the first Swifts actually inside 2 of the boxes, so I'm hopeful for next year. Apparently, Swifts will even nest in boxes with speakers playing inside, so no chance of them being put off by the calls.

Have you tried talking to your neighbour about when and how loud they play the calls. Perhaps if they turned the volume down a bit, perhaps adjusted the direction of the speakers, and played them for less time each day (ideally when it would be least disturbing to you) then it would be more acceptable. If the Swifts have already discovered the site, and are responding to the speakers, then perhaps the volume doesn't need to be as high.

The good news is that the Swift season is almost over for this year, with them migrating to Africa about now, so your neighbours shouldn't be playing calls for too much longer.
 
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OsageArcher

Well-known member
I thought the consensus on BF was that recordings are bad, especially when played over and over and over? From an advocate's testimony above, no success even after 3 years - give it up! I think Swifts are smart enough to find nesting spots, how did they do it for hundreds of thousands or even millions of years before?
 

Sandra (Taylor)

Registered User
Supporter
And if it haven't worked in 3 years, perhaps you should take a hint that it doesn't work


I took the hint long since that a swift box doesn't work (didn't play a lure though). We've had two boxes under our eaves for at least 10 yrs and nothing - but nothing - has shown any interest in them whatsoever!

Sandra
 

King Edward

Well-known member
I thought the consensus on BF was that recordings are bad, especially when played over and over and over? From an advocate's testimony above, no success even after 3 years - give it up! I think Swifts are smart enough to find nesting spots, how did they do it for hundreds of thousands or even millions of years before?

This was mainly on the basis of people using playback to disturb (rare) breeding birds for the purpose of viewing/photography, in areas where they were already known to be present, with no benefits to the birds themselves. The extent to which it was actually harmful was disputed. I think it's easier to justify its use for research purposes (e.g. capture for ringing), or for encouraging nesting, in which the birds should (hopefully) benefit either directly or indirectly.

In the case of Swifts, their natural nesting habitat (tree holes in old growth forest) has long since been destroyed, hence they are largely dependent on nesting in buildings. Many of these sites have also been lost, through renovation of older buildings and lack of suitable holes on new ones, hence the use of boxes or purpose-built nest holes. Playback is useful for attracting Swifts to new sites, hence the low success rate otherwise of boxes. Obviously it shouldn't be necessary if boxes are put up in areas close to existing colonies. More information here: Swift Conservation
 

Screach

New member
United Kingdom
Hello All - I think I need some advice.

I’m ashamed to say I’m not very interested in birds at all – although my wife has a very keen interest. I live on a typical modern housing estate and around the end of May some neighbours installed ‘swift boxes’ in the eves of their house. To help attract the birds they are playing an audio recording of swift noises on speakers. It’s on an endless loop that runs from early morning until around just after dark. The noise repeats every 10 seconds with 5 seconds of swift sounds then 5 seconds silence. I find it quite a bit louder than the background bird chatter. Very occasionally it’s turned down, and just resonantly the have occasionally switched it off. It wouldn’t be so bad if it was just a week or so, but now it’s being going on for a month and a half it’s really getting to me to the extent I can’t go out in the garden anymore. Perhaps I’m oversensitive to that particular frequency, but it’s having a similar effect on me to finger nails down a blackboard. Even when I’m sitting in my living room , and with the windows open, the sound penetrates over the television.

Now, I know I’m being very mean spirited, and setting up the boxes is a really nice thing to do for the birds– but it’s driving me nuts and so I’d really appreciate some thoughts from an ornithologists perspective. I’m especially keen to find out if it’s necessary to help the swifts. If it’s just there because it means my neighbours will have swifts on their house as opposed to somewhere else I’ll find it hard to be accepting, but on the other hand if you indicate that swifts are endangered and it will really help them out then I will find it a lot easier to sympathise ?

Thanks in advance

David
Apologies, dragging this one up from the past as I'm in exactly the same boat as the original poster and found this via google. Neighbours have been doing this for years with no success other than irritating the hell out of us for 3 months of the year. We eventually reached an agreement on timings (once they finally engaged with us and stopped dismissing us) - 2hrs around dawn and dusk. However, their interpretation of dawn and dusk at this time of year leaves a lot to be desired. I'd be interested to know how ABSABS got this resolved. We are considering taking action via the local authority. 3 months of repetitive screeching is enough to drive anyone insane. There's potentially an ASBO in it for the offender!
 

JanetR

New member
England
Apologies, dragging this one up from the past as I'm in exactly the same boat as the original poster and found this via google. Neighbours have been doing this for years with no success other than irritating the hell out of us for 3 months of the year. We eventually reached an agreement on timings (once they finally engaged with us and stopped dismissing us) - 2hrs around dawn and dusk. However, their interpretation of dawn and dusk at this time of year leaves a lot to be desired. I'd be interested to know how ABSABS got this resolved. We are considering taking action via the local authority. 3 months of repetitive screeching is enough to drive anyone insane. There's potentially an ASBO in it for the offender!
I have been looking this problem up as I am experiencing exactly the same issue. This is on the front of a house directly opposite to mine and although it is now early August, the caller is still on. How did you resolve this? The caller has been going on since May and I have complained to the neighbour. Did you complain to your council? Its making me feel extremely stressed!
 

Screach

New member
United Kingdom
I have been looking this problem up as I am experiencing exactly the same issue. This is on the front of a house directly opposite to mine and although it is now early August, the caller is still on. How did you resolve this? The caller has been going on since May and I have complained to the neighbour. Did you complain to your council? Its making me feel extremely stressed!
Hi Janet. If you have politely expressed your annoyance to the neighbour, and they haven't adjusted appropriately, I would engage the council immediately. We gave our neighbour too many chances and now regret not formalising a complaint earlier. It's no light matter reporting your neighbours, you have to live next to them after all and we didn't want to start a tit-for-tat argument/relationship. Make sure you keep a diary of when the noises are on and how this is affecting you (we had to leave the house on weekends as we couldn't enjoy our garden for example). You will need to submit to the local authority. If they're too slow to respond, you can engage with a solicitor and get them to write a letter stating that it constitutes a statutory nuisance (enjoyment of your property is being affected) and that you will take further action if necessary.

In an interesting twist to our story, our neighbours neighbour started playing the noises too - again all for the right reasons for swift conservation. They were however much more receptive when we spoke to them, understood our concerns and made amends immediately. They even confessed themselves they sometimes found their own call noises annoying when watching TV and it annoyed their teenage daughters!!

It is August now and everything I've read on the matter suggests the calls should be off by now.
 

Andy Adcock

Well-known member
England
I just wonder what some of you people might do if you were lucky enough to actually get Swifts, nesting in your roof?

I can't imagine that it's much use playing the recording beyond June anyway because that would be pretty late for Swifts to start laying eggs? My local birds have alreday gone having not arrived until the third week of May this year so it's not a long season.
 

Screach

New member
United Kingdom
By all
I just wonder what some of you people might do if you were lucky enough to actually get Swifts, nesting in your roof?

I can't imagine that it's much use playing the recording beyond June anyway because that would be pretty late for Swifts to start laying eggs? My local birds have alreday gone having not arrived until the third week of May this year so it's not a long season.
By all accounts they're good neighbours and not noisy in the boxes.

What is failed to be acknowledged by some is the repetitive and artificial nature of the calls is the major factor in the annoyance. 5 seconds of the same identical audio clip, whatever it might be (music, bird noise, giraffe mating calls, nails on a black board, Justin Bieber whatever), on repeat for 3 months of the year would rightly drive anyone insane.
 

Xenospiza

Distracted
Supporter
I have Swifts breeding in my street and indeed I rarely hear them call from the houses.

I think the last week of May and first two weeks of June should suffice (as Andy suggests). I am quite bad at dealing with repetitive noises myself, so I can understand this loop drives people crazy! (And luckily no one is complaining about birds here).
 

JanetR

New member
England
Hi Janet. If you have politely expressed your annoyance to the neighbour, and they haven't adjusted appropriately, I would engage the council immediately. We gave our neighbour too many chances and now regret not formalising a complaint earlier. It's no light matter reporting your neighbours, you have to live next to them after all and we didn't want to start a tit-for-tat argument/relationship. Make sure you keep a diary of when the noises are on and how this is affecting you (we had to leave the house on weekends as we couldn't enjoy our garden for example). You will need to submit to the local authority. If they're too slow to respond, you can engage with a solicitor and get them to write a letter stating that it constitutes a statutory nuisance (enjoyment of your property is being affected) and that you will take further action if necessary.

In an interesting twist to our story, our neighbours neighbour started playing the noises too - again all for the right reasons for swift conservation. They were however much more receptive when we spoke to them, understood our concerns and made amends immediately. They even confessed themselves they sometimes found their own call noises annoying when watching TV and it annoyed their teenage daughters!!

It is August now and everything I've read on the matter suggests the calls should be off by now.
Thank you so much for responding to my post. The lure is still being played, intermittently, about 5 times a day for about 1 1/2 hrs each time. I have decided to report to Environmental health today. I have been keeping a record over the last week of when it is on and off. We are now due for some warmer weather and I would like to use my garden and open my windows, but the noise is too annoying. Its one of those noises, the more you hear it the more it annoys, like finger nails on a blackboard.
I will let the forum know if I have any response from the council.
 

King Edward

Well-known member
Last week or so of July is also meant to be an important time for playing the calls, since juvenile Swifts will be looking for nest sites then for future years (although they don't breed until they are a few years old). No reason for carrying on playing the calls into August though - the few Swifts that are left will be late-nesting adults feeding chicks, which will have no interest in the calls at all.

Sounds like your neighbours are being extremely inconsiderate in this case, especially since you have already spoken to them.

I can't remember how long we played the calls for - 3 or 4 years maybe until we had a sufficiently established colony. No neighbour complaints though, and I tried to find a balance between being effective and being annoying (to us as much as to the neighbours). We have about 12 pairs now (from none originally) so it was extremely effective. The calls of the Swifts themselves are lovely to hear and not at all annoying - the complete opposite of the recordings which are undoubtedly very irritating.
 

Hauksen

Forum member
Hi Janet,

Thank you so much for responding to my post. The lure is still being played, intermittently, about 5 times a day for about 1 1/2 hrs each time. I have decided to report to Environmental health today. I have been keeping a record over the last week of when it is on and off. We are now due for some warmer weather and I would like to use my garden and open my windows, but the noise is too annoying. Its one of those noises, the more you hear it the more it annoys, like finger nails on a blackboard.
I will let the forum know if I have any response from the council.

I just remembered this site on swifts ... it has a special section on artificial calls:


It narrows down the period in which the calls should be played for best success, notes that the calls don't need to be very loud, and even advises to play them whenever one sees swifts around.

The latter point seems quite sensible to me, as swifts sometimes seem to actively scout for breeding locations, mostly in the evening.

Regards,

Henning
 

JanetR

New member
England
Last week or so of July is also meant to be an important time for playing the calls, since juvenile Swifts will be looking for nest sites then for future years (although they don't breed until they are a few years old). No reason for carrying on playing the calls into August though - the few Swifts that are left will be late-nesting adults feeding chicks, which will have no interest in the calls at all.

Sounds like your neighbours are being extremely inconsiderate in this case, especially since you have already spoken to them.

I can't remember how long we played the calls for - 3 or 4 years maybe until we had a sufficiently established colony. No neighbour complaints though, and I tried to find a balance between being effective and being annoying (to us as much as to the neighbours). We have about 12 pairs now (from none originally) so it was extremely effective. The calls of the Swifts themselves are lovely to hear and not at all annoying - the complete opposite of the recordings which are undoubtedly very irritating.
Thanks for your reply. I reported this problem to my council and they spoke to my neighbour. He was quite angry with me as he said he is now trying to attract young birds to nest in future years. However, he has now stopped the recording until next year and has directed the speaker upwards instead of directly at my house and also added a volume control. I am thankful that it has now stopped and grateful to the council. I love all birds and wildlife but just found this to be so stressful and also very dismissive of his neighbours. I have since also received a lot of support from surrounding neighbours who were too frightened to complain.
 

JanetR

New member
England
Hi Janet,



I just remembered this site on swifts ... it has a special section on artificial calls:


It narrows down the period in which the calls should be played for best success, notes that the calls don't need to be very loud, and even advises to play them whenever one sees swifts around.

The latter point seems quite sensible to me, as swifts sometimes seem to actively scout for breeding locations, mostly in the evening.

Regards,

Henning
Thanks for your reply And the link. I reported this problem to my council and they spoke to my neighbour. He was quite angry with me as he said he is now trying to attract young birds to nest in future years. However, he has now stopped the recording until next year and has directed the speaker upwards instead of directly at my house and also added a volume control. I am thankful that it has now stopped and grateful to the council. I love all birds and wildlife but just found this to be so stressful and also very dismissive of his neighbours. I have since also received a lot of support from surrounding neighbours who were too frightened to complain.
 
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Colombia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Colombia

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