G and I never had a fireplace in our home until we moved to NC. When we bought this house one of the things the real estate agent told us was that we would need to have the fire place capped or swifts would take up residence in it. I was adamantly opposed to capping the fireplace for that very reason. When we lived in Florida I was a Song Bird Rehabilitator and I had plenty of experience with rehabbing swifts that had either been accidentally or forcibly removed from chimneys.

One of the things I learned as a rehabber was that swifts were having a hard time finding nesting sites in the wild due to the destruction of old growth forest. Fireplaces are the next best thing for them. I also learned the swift diet is 100% bugs; they consume several times their body weight in bugs every day.

Another very important thing I learned is that it’s very hard for a human to raise an infant swift to adulthood because of their buggy diet is so high in protein it’s hard to replicate, mostly due to cost. They also have special housing needs. Chimneys are tall, deep and dark; the swifts dart in and feed the babies about ever 5-10 minutes. This is very hard for a human to do, even if you can manage a tall, dark nesting box it’s hard for a human to continuously feed a bird every 5-10 minutes; human babies are demanding but they’ve got nothing on an infant swift.

So being the critter nut that I am I declared our chimney a swift condominium, there would be no capping. Come March of each year it’s very easy to tell when nesting season has begun because the cats sit with devoted concentration and watch the fireplace. We begin to hear the fluttering of wings and then about the middle of April we’ll begin to hear the unique chatter of the babies as they vie for the next bug mom or dad brings.

Occasionally we’ll get a heavy rain that washes the nest off the side of the chimney and the babies will fall into the fireplace. I knew I was not up to the task of rearing swifts so G and I put our heads together and came of with a solution. G got a telescoping fishing pole and taped a small basket to it. All we have to do is put the babies in the basket and carefully raise it up the chimney and much to our amazement that first year the mother reared them and they fledged.

Last night three young adults get lost or misdirected; we not sure which, but they ended up in the fireplace. It was kind of cool because we got to see them up close, that’s something that doesn’t happen very often. The cats were the first to realize the problem and they really wanted to help solve it but I thought it best if they were put in the bedroom until we got things under control.

When I opened up the fire screen two flew out and took a tour of the living room. Fortunately they were easily caught. I took them outside to release them but not before G got some really nice pictures.

Please check out the links I've included to learn more about these valuable and sweet natured little birds.

1 comment:

Lori McNamara said...

Thanks so much for your comment on my blog, I love yours! We used to live in another house and would get the chimney swifts in there too. I see them flying around here almost every day, I don't know where they stay. I love going to thrift shops too.
Where in Florida did you used to live?