The last installment I posted was concerning the European or Common Starling and the problems associated with this bird species. This segment we are going to discuss a lesser known species that comes with its own issues, challenges and protections, the “Chimney Swift.”
The Chimney Swift is a small bird that hunts insects “on the wing”, which means they hunt while in flight. You probably have seen them in your neighborhood, field, or a park but did not realize the type of bird. They are very agile and entertaining to watch while they hunt. If you are lucky enough to have them in your area they are also beneficial since each bird eats thousands of insects. They are beneficial unless they take up residence in your chimney.
Chimney Swifts used to nest in hollow trees and other cavities, but ideal nesting sites have been created with the proliferation of chimneys in North America. Chimney swifts don’t perch like other birds, they cling to the sides of the chimney and other structures. Many of my customers have also misidentified them as bats. Once they’ve chosen a chimney they will build their nest on inside of the chimney close to the smoke chamber area. You may not know they are there until the eggs hatch and you hear the loud calls of the young inside the chimney. This is when I get the calls from customers stating they have birds in their chimney. At this point it’s too late, the birds are protected under the Federal Migratory Bird Act. Once they establish a nest it can’t be disturbed, it’s now become a “waiting game” until they migrate back to their winter territory.
Prevention is key, installing a quality chimney cap will not only keep birds, squirrels and other animals out. It will also prevent water from coming straight down your chimney flues which creates other issues for your chimney!