Maternity ward is for the birds

Midwives are hoping for lots of swift deliveries this spring after bird boxes were included in the design of the new Lister Hospital maternity ward.

Architects of the building, which opened at the end of last year, teamed up with Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust to install the boxes, which are specifically designed to attract swifts. Conservationists are hoping the birds, which arrive from South Africa to breed in the UK from May, will take a liking to the boxes and lay eggs.

Trust conservation manager Tim Hill said: “We put together a conservation plan for swifts together with Stevenage Borough Council. Working with Osbourne Construction and Lister Hospital we are delighted to have achieved one of our aims.

“We hope the birds will be persuaded to stop off after their long journey from Africa – fingers crossed for some new arrivals too!”

Tim Simmons, construction manager at Osbourne, said he hoped the boxes would help to redress the balance of lost habitats caused by modern building techniques, which has created a 40 per cent decline in population figures in the last 15 years.

“It was an interesting challenge for us to incorporate the nest boxes into the building but we felt it worked well and hope to do the same with other buildings in the future. With a minor change to building design, it’s great to think we may be able to help these birds whose population has fallen so dramatically.”