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Chimney Swifts

With spring in full swing, nesting birds can be found in many trees and bushes – and chimneys. Unfortunately, for many animals an unprotected chimney can be seen as a safe space to build a nest and raise hatchlings; not only can this be dangerous to the animals, but it can also cause damage to your chimney. One particular species of bird that is known for nesting in chimneys are chimney swifts.

Chimney Swifts - Westhampton NY - Guaranteed Chimney ServiceWhat are chimney swifts?

Dedicated bird watchers aren’t the only ones who can easily recognize chimney swifts! Chimney swifts have small, cigar shaped, grey and brown bodies with short, wide bills. They are often identified by their distinctive calls and flying patterns; instead of soaring gracefully, chimney swifts often make sharp, jerky turns and movements when flying.

Chimney swifts are migratory birds that spend their winters in South American before returning to North America for the spring and summer nesting season. While the natural habitat of the chimney swift is hollow or dead trees, the expansion of cities and the destruction of many of their former nesting grounds has led the birds to nest in chimneys.

How do swifts get in?

Chimney swifts are most common in homes without chimney caps. However, damaged or ill-fitting chimneys may still have open holes or spaces small enough for a swift to fit through. Once inside the chimney, swifts build their nests vertically on the sides of the flue. This can cause damage to the flue liner as well as partially blocking the flue.

Because chimney swifts are migratory birds, they return to the same nesting grounds each year. This means that if you have had a chimney swift once before, they will try to return again. Because of this, it is extremely important to have your chimney inspected  so the location of chimney swift entry can be found and repaired.

I have swifts in my chimney – now what?

While it is possible to remove many species of birds and mammals before they are hurt or damage your chimney, chimney swifts cannot be removed. These birds are a protected migratory species and are protected under federal law from having their nests moved or destroyed once the nesting process has begun.

Chimney swifts, as well as several other species of migratory birds, are protected by the Federal Migratory Birth Treaty Act. Under the law, it is illegal to move, remove, or destroy a chimney swift nest during the nesting process; this includes when eggs or hatchlings are present. The nests can only be removed once the hatchlings have left the nest; because of the swift’s short nesting cycle, this occurs about six weeks after the eggs are laid.

Birds in the chimney are more than just a minor inconvenience; they can damage your chimney system as well as expose your family to bacteria and disease. If you think you might have swifts in your chimney, or for more information on keeping chimney swifts out contact Guaranteed Chimney Service today.

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