Bird Sitting on a Branch

Have you heard any unusual noises or chirping coming from your chimney? If it is between spring and early winter, you could be hearing chimney swifts. These tiny birds migrate north from South America and return when the cold weather starts to set in. These birds are harmless, but you may not want them living in your chimney. You may not even notice them in your unused chimney until the babies are a little bigger and start making persistent chirping noises when their parents return home with food. Read on to find out more about these birds, and what to do to keep them out of your chimney.

What Are Chimney Swifts?

Chimney swifts are often mistaken for bats, as they are a similar size and fly in much the same manner. Like bats, and unlike other birds, chimney swifts don’t nest in tree branches, and actually have trouble balancing on horizontal surfaces. They prefer the vertical walls of hollowed-out trees, and your chimney provides a perfect environment for migrating chimney swifts.

The legs and feet of the chimney swift help it to hold on to the vertical walls of your chimney, and they build nests that cling to the inside chimney walls that are held together by their glue-like saliva. Chimney swifts spend most of their days flying, and only land to sleep and raise their young. They spend their days catching insects, and can catch up to one third of their weight in bugs every day!

Chimney swifts typically nest in hollowed out trees, but because of deforestation and loss of natural habitat, their numbers are declining. Bird lovers who hope to entice chimney swifts to their yards build special towers to provide a nesting place. Abandoned factories with smokestacks are another favorite place for chimney swifts to make their summer homes.

Protected Birds

Chimney swifts are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and Federal Law prohibits removing them, or any migratory bird, without a permit. So if you have found chimney swifts in your home, you will need to wait until they leave and cannot legally remove them. Thankfully, chimney swifts don’t pose any threat to you or your home, but there are measures you can take to prevent them from nesting in your chimney again. If a chimney sweep comes to clean your chimney and finds chimney swifts, it is illegal to remove the nest, eggs, or birds.

Chimney swifts return to the same nesting spot year after year, so if you have them in your chimney this year, chances are they will return. If you are not wanting to host them in your chimney, there are steps you can take to ensure that they are not able to make your chimney their home.

Cap Your Chimney

There is a very easy solution for preventing these birds from nesting in your chimney, and that is installing a chimney cap. The only thing to remember is that you must install the cap while the chimney swifts are gone, and your chimney sweep should always check for nests and birds before installing a cap. A chimney cap is a minor and inexpensive installation of a metal lid onto your chimney that has mesh sides to allow for airflow. A chimney cap deters not just chimney swifts, but any other birds or animals that may want to take up residence in your chimney. Unlike chimney swifts, some of these other animals cannot climb out on their own, and could get trapped and die inside your chimney. This leads to a horrible smell in your home, and a call to a professional to remove the carcass. If you are wanting to prevent chimney swifts from making your chimney their next home, or from returning to nest again, a chimney cap is the solution.

Benefits of a Chimney Cap

Keeping out the animals is not the only benefit to capping your chimney. Chimney caps prevent rain from entering your chimney that could lead to leaking in your house or attic and damage to your walls and ceilings. Chimney caps can also help to prevent strong blasts of cold air from entering your home through the chimney. Wind can create downdrafts in a chimney, and push smoke into your home. A chimney cap can help minimize these drafts, and in turn make your home more efficient. Another great benefit of installing a chimney cap is for spark protection. Especially in dry climates, keeping sparks flying out of the chimney to a minimum is incredibly important. So you may be looking into capping your chimney because of chimney swifts, but there are many other benefits that a cap can bring!

Some people want to host chimney swifts in their chimneys, to provide a place for their diminishing numbers. If you would rather keep Chimney swifts out of your home, a chimney cap is an easy way to deter these birds from nesting in your chimney. If you are needing a chimney cap installed, or any other chimney cleaning or service, Chimney Care Plus of Frederick has the experience and skill to help. We’re proud to provide service for folks throughout Western Maryland, including those in Frederick, Mt. Airy, Hagerstown, Myersville, and the surrounding areas — call us today to schedule an appointment!