It is a beautiful spring day and the birds have returned! It is wonderful to look out the window and see robins, cardinals, and finches gathered around the bird feeder. To most of them, a chimney is simply one option among many for this year’s nesting site. However, there is one bird to which it is ideal, the adorable and federally protected, Chaetura pelagica, also known as the Chimney Swift.
This delicate soot grey bird has a set of tiny legs, and a pair of very strong little feet. It cannot roost standing up like other birds. It spends most of its time in the air flitting around catching flying insects and spiders! The only way it can land is to cling to vertical surfaces like the trunks of trees, the sides of buildings, and yes, your chimney. Chimneys are an ideal nesting site for the chimney swift. Historically they built their nests on the vertical interiors of old trees, sticking the nest to the walls with saliva. As standing deadwood has become increasingly rare in PA, and chimneys are in abundant supply it is not uncommon for a homeowner to one day hear an uproarious chirping from a nest of young swifts.
These amazing and rather loud birds are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and their nests may not be removed without a federal permit. Get a nest in your chimney and you will be in for a good two weeks of noise. Additionally when not nesting chimney swifts roost communally and the noise made by a chimney full of them is usually described as a thundering! The best prevention for this all of this is a chimney cap.
Chimney caps are good for keeping out all kinds of troublemakers such as squirrels, raccoons, and other nesting birds. Our technicians have even had to remove a skunk on several occasions. But when it comes to chimney swifts, noise is not the only concern. If your chimney has a metal liner the Chimney Swifts may try to nest, but the metallic surface is problematic for them. They will usually become trapped in the flue and die. In this situation a chimney cap is very important to protect this declining species.
So give us a call and have a cap installed before your chimney becomes home to more than just your fireplace!
For more information of chimney Swifts visit 911 Wildlife