Do you ever see that distinct “flying cigar” silhouette? Or small birds that could be mistaken for bats during the day? Chances are you are looking at a chimney swift. These birds used to dwell in caves, cliff faces, and hollow trees, but with the design of chimneys in North America by European settlers, these little birds found the perfect home in chimneys. Their long claws make it suited to cling to the walls of chimneys or other vertical surfaces. The nests they build inside your chimney look like a half-saucer of loosely woven twigs stuck together and cemented to the walls of the chimney with the bird’s glue-like saliva.
What can be done to stop these birds from nesting in your chimney?
The key to keeping these birds out of the chimney is prevention. Chimneys without caps are the perfect opportunity for the birds to use as a place to build a nest. We suggest adding a cap to your chimney to not only help with deterring these birds from causing problems with venting your appliances, but they also help keep other birds and animals from making nests in your chimneys as well. Chimney caps also help with rain and debris.
What if you hear chirping or rustling sounds inside your chimney? What if you know you have something nesting inside?
If there are live animals/birds inside your chimney, be sure to first call an animal control specialist. They will be the most knowledgeable person to be able to safely remove any live animal(s) inside the chimney and talk with you about prevention. Next, you will want to get your chimney swept/inspected by a professional to make sure any debris has been cleared. If it is not cleared away, you could be left with a smoke spillage back into your house or that debris catching on fire. Lastly, you will want to prevent these birds and animals from taking up residence again. Be sure to get a chimney cap installed during or right after the first two steps.
Because chimney swifts are a federally protected migratory bird, nothing can be done to remove them from your chimney once they are there (including their nests and/or eggs). Chimney sweeps, animal control, or yourself cannot relocate them under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, unless a federal permit is granted. The best thing to do is if you find swifts already in your chimney, is to wait them out. In Pennsylvania, the swifts start to migrate to our state in about April and nest until about October.