A chimney swift is a little bird with a cigar-shaped body, curving wings, a beak that is so short that it is almost hard to see, and a smudge-gray color. According to Audubon, the chimney swift is found in the eastern United States. One unusual feature of this tiny bird is that it spends most of its life in the air, and when it does land, it can’t perch in normal bird fashion, but instead clings to vertical walls such as hollow trees or caves…or the inside of your chimney. And although this characteristic is one that makes the chimney swift unique, it is also a characteristic that can cause problems for you, a chimney owner.
Is It a Problem to Have a Chimney Swift in your Chimney?
Chimney swifts used to regularly use hollow trees to build their nests and lay their eggs, but as land was cleared for agricultural purposes, they began to use chimneys instead. You might assume that the chimney swift nest would be a fire hazard in your chimney. Because this is such a small bird and the nests they build are very small, this is not the case. For all intents and purposes, a chimney swift nest in your chimney really is not a problem. However, you may notice chirping coming from inside your chimney when a chimney swift nests there, and this chirping will increase once the baby birds hatch and start to beg for food. The majority of chirping noises should only last for around two weeks.
Should You Discourage Chimney Swifts Building Nests in Your Chimney?
If the noises doesn’t bother you, a chimney swift really won’t hurt the interior of your chimney, and it isn’t a potential fire hazard. Nevertheless, there are some steps you should follow if you have a chimney swift that uses your chimney for nesting.
According to the Humane Society of the United States, the chimney swift is a protected species under the Migratory Bird Safety Act, and “anyone who knowingly destroys birds or nests that might contain eggs or young can be fined or penalized.”
If you have a chimney swift’s nest in your chimney, it is a good idea to have this removed after the young birds have left the nest in the fall. This will actually help the swifts out, because they may try to use the nest the following year, and the old nest may not be stable enough to hold the eggs year after year. The highly skilled chimney sweeps at Michael’s Chimney Service will be able to identify and remove nests and other obstructions from your chimney during yearly maintenance and inspections.
Some of the newer chimneys may be made of metal flue pipes rather than clay liners, and chimney swifts aren’t able to grip the metal as easily. This can cause the birds to become trapped in the chimney or cause them to fall into the fireplace itself, causing injury or death. If you have a metal flue pipe, consider installing a chimney cap to avoid this danger for chimney swifts looking for a nesting habitat. Contact our qualified chimney technicians to inspect your chimney and recommend the best type of chimney caps.