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The man who built homes for UK's 60,000 swifts

Still Waters

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Posted (IP: Staff) ·

Retired salesman John Stimpson is 80 today. He will be celebrating with a cake at Slimming World this evening, followed by dinner with his family on Friday. Stimpson has one achievement in particular to mark: he has just completed his goal of building 30,000 swift boxes, which could house half of the UK’s breeding population of 60,000 pairs.

Stimpson has been making these peculiarly shaped boxes for 13 years using three saws and three drills in his garage attached to his bungalow near Ely in Cambridgeshire. What started as a retirement hobby morphed into a full-time job after orders increased, and he sometimes works 13-hour days to get them all done. He sells them for £20, which is enough to cover his costs.

He has also made about 700 boxes for barn owls and 800 for blue tits, finches, blackbirds and thrushes. According to the British Trust for Ornithology, a high percentage of swift boxes put up in the UK have been made by Stimpson. It wasn’t until he went through his order book last July that he realised quite how many he’d made.


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Mr Stimpson may just end up as a bird's nest baron soon...


Edible bird's nests are among the most expensive animal products consumed by humans, with nests being sold at prices up to about $3,000 per pound ($6,600/kg), depending on grading.



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