Environmental Chimney Sweep Inc.

Why You Can’t Move Chimney Swifts


Chimney swifts are birds that nest in chimneys in eastern North American during summer and migrate to South America in the winter. Swifts are not capable of perching, so they must cling to vertical surfaces. They prefer nesting in large, open chimneys, where they present a nuisance for homeowners. However, moving the swifts is not permitted because these birds are protected by law.

Chimney Swifts are protected birds

The chimney swift is an amazing bird because since it cannot perch, it must do everything in flight. Tasks performed while flying range from catching food to breaking off twigs to create a nest. Swifts dine on insects and stop flying only long enough to roost or provide food to their young. Flights follow a distinctive path of rapid, angular turns.

When farmers clear trees from land, they remove the traditional habitat for chimney swifts. Mortared brick and stone chimneys represent a suitable replacement to hollow trees. More homeowners are installing slippery metal flue pipes and chimney caps, presenting dangers or deterrents for these harmless birds. A swift is unable to cling to a metal flue pipe and may fall into the fireplace, causing death.

The small nests that swifts build for their young are not fire hazards. However, they should be removed once the birds fly south in the fall. If the nest is removed before the young have vacated, these tiny birds are likely to die. The Migratory Bird Treaty Act protects swifts so an individual can be subject to penalties or fines for knowingly destroying birds or their nests that could contain eggs or young birds.

To keep swifts safe, metal-lined chimneys should be capped. Chimney caps will prevent Swifts from nesting there in the first place. A chimney should not be swept until fall if a swift occupies it. The North American Chimney Swift Nest Site Research Project is currently designing and testing alternate nesting structures for swifts. Until then, homeowners should live in harmony with these attractive birds.

By on November 28th, 2012 | Tagged with: Tags: , | Leave a Comment


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