Here’s a story: Lee and I recently moved to a hundred-year-old house in the Old Mechanicsville neighborhood, so we have some new things to get used to…like roaches. (We actually had roaches in the last place we lived but there weren’t as many cracks and crannies for them to escape into!!!)
We returned home from a movie late on Thursday night. There was a roach in the kitchen. We attempted to squash it. It escaped into a crack (of course!). Then we heard a rushing, rustling sound from the living room. Lee though intruder; I thought giant rat. We were both wrong. It was birds, three of them. They had come in through the fireplace in our living room. They were flying around our living room and foyer, somewhat inexpertly, I quickly noticed, as if they were not quite fully-fledged. The other thing I noticed immediately was that I had no idea what kind of birds they were. Lee and I both thought they looked like bats. They were mostly black or very dark gray, with pointed wings, which they held open when they clung to our curtains.
I’m not very good with animals. I had no intention of touching the birds with my bare hands but they didn’t find their way to the door on their own, so I caught them in a hat and put them outside. I was really sad that these young birds didn’t seem to be good flyers yet and releasing them might be a bad thing. But I didn’t know what else to do.
I kept thinking about our avian intruders. I kept wondering what type of birds they were. I left for the beach. (Incidentally, after I had departed, ANOTHER bird came down the chimney and Lee had to catch it and release it! He couldn’t just hide under a trashcan this time and leave me to the bird-catching!) I googled “birds in your chimney” and immediately found out that we had chimney swifts. I learned several facts about chimney swifts:
- Chimney swifts roost in holes like hollow logs, building nests that cling to the vertical sides, but the reduction of their habitats forced them to find alternative nesting places – chimneys.
- Chimney swifts prefer stone or brick chimneys. New homes with metal flues and chimney caps are unusable for swifts.
- Chimney swifts only reside in North America in the summer (April – July). They are migratory, spending the winter in eastern Peru. (Wow, that’s crazy!) They have also been found in Europe.
- They are insectivores; a family of swifts may devour up to 12,000 insects per day.
- They are incredibly difficult to raise in captivity and are on endangered species lists.
- Keeping your chimney clean, which you should probably do anyway, is the best way to ensure that chimney swifts can build a good nest. If the chimney is sooty, the nest will not adhere to the side and might fall into your fireplace, spilling baby birds.