Chimney Swifts – Understanding The Basics

If you are looking for a chimney sweep in Jacksonville to help you with chimney swifts or you would just like more information about these curious little birds, you are in the right place. Let us start with the basics.

 What Are Chimney Swifts?

 Chimney swifts (Chaetura pelagica) are a medium-sized type of swift, which feed primarily on flying insects, and on spiders. Uniquely, they build their nests almost exclusively on human-built structures – particularly chimneys – hence the name. They are found throughout the entire Eastern United States and are rarely seen west of the Rocky Mountains.

Why Do Chimney Swifts Nest In Chimneys?

 Before European colonists arrived in North America, chimney swifts rarely nested in human-built structures. The birds preferred to nest in hollowed-out trees. When possible, chimney swifts will still build their nests in trees but land development has limited the amount of trees available for nesting.

Today, it is much easier for a chimney swift to find a man-made structure, such as a chimney, air shaft, well, or even just an unused corner of a building, and make their nests in these areas. The nest itself is built of twigs and saliva, which cements it to the chimney or other structure. Birds typically make their nests and breed between March and May.

How Can I Tell If I’ve Got Chimney Swifts?

The best way is to listen for their tell-tale bird call, which consists of about 3 seconds of very high “tittering” notes, often sounding almost like an insect. You can hear the call of a chimney swift at this link. Dusk is typically the best time to listen for the call of a chimney swift.

You can also stand outside and look for the silhouette of a chimney swift, often described as a “cigar with wings.”

If you do feel comfortable climbing up on your roof (not recommended), you can also look directly into your chimney. You’ll likely be able to see a nest, though you may need to use a flashlight if the nest is deep in the chimney. You might also see feathers, eggs, or other tell-tale signs of habitation.

You May Have To Wait To Remove Chimney Swifts

If you do have chimney swifts in your home, you and your local chimney sweep will have to wait until they leave in the Fall. Their presence in your chimney will not damage it in any way but it may annoy your pets! Under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, it is illegal to remove chimney swifts from your home until the breeding season is over without a special federal permit. So just wait until the young have left the nest, and then you can hire a chimney sweep in Jacksonville to remove the nest and any other debris in your chimney!