Spring has finally arrived, and many different species of birds can be found building nests in the trees and bushes around our homes. Unfortunately, some species of birds forgo trees altogether, preferring instead to nest inside chimneys. Chimney swifts in particular are known for nesting in chimneys; not only can nesting chimney swifts damage your chimney, but they can also create safety hazards for you and your family.
What are chimney swifts?
Chimney swifts are small grey and brown birds. Known for their cigar shaped bodies and wide, flat beaks, they can also be identified by their distinct calls and unusual “jerky” flight patterns. Chimney swifts spend their winters in South America before migrating throughout North America to nest in the spring and summer.
While the natural nesting grounds of chimney swifts are dead or follow trees, the destruction of many forests has led them to nest primarily in chimneys. This can cause damage to your chimney, as well as expose your family to bacteria or diseases. According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, “Their ability to travel over long distances and through a variety of habitats exposes them to a wide range of microorganisms.”
Keeping chimney swifts out
The most common way for chimney swifts to get into a chimney is through a damaged chimney cap. Because swifts are so small, a chimney cap that is ill-fitting or has shifted since installation may have a gap big enough for a swift to fit through. Likewise, small holes or breaks in the mesh or wire sides can also allow swifts to squeeze in.
To keep swifts from invading your chimney, it is important to have your chimney regularly inspected. A chimney inspection can evaluate the condition of the chimney and look for damage to the chimney cap or other components. If any damage has been found, it can be quickly repaired before a small issue turns into a major problem.
Swifts are migratory birds and return to the same nesting grounds each year. Because of this, it is important to make sure your chimney is repaired and protected if you have had swifts in the past. If not, your chimney may become an annual nest for chimney swifts!
I have swifts in my chimney – now what?
If the birds in your chimney are determined to be chimney swifts, unfortunately nothing can be done. Chimney swifts as well as several other species of birds are protected under the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Under this law it is a federal offense to damage or remove chimney swift nests until the hatchlings have left. Luckily for homeowners, chimney swifts have one of the shortest nesting cycles of any birds; the time from nesting to hatchlings leaving the nest takes less than six weeks.
Chimney swifts are more than just a yearly nuisance; they can cause serious damage to your chimney system and create safety hazards for you and your family. To keep chimney swifts from invading your chimney, contact Magic Broom Chimney Sweep today.