Thinking of Removing Birds from Your Chimney? …Not So Fast!!
Every year, the appropriately-named Chimney Swifts migrate to North America from Peru during springtime, and commonly build their nests inside of chimneys. Their glue-like saliva allows them to attach their nests onto the inside wall of your chimney. This species of birds (Chaetura pelagica) is federally-protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, therefore it is against federal law to remove or disturb them – or their active nests – during their breeding season without a Federal Migratory Bird Depredation Permit. Breeding season typically lasts until around the end of the summer, but you can check out this interactive migration map to learn more about their migration habits!
Though their chirping can be loud and bothersome, Chimney Swift hatchlings typically leave their nests around 30 days after hatching. To help prevent the youngsters from falling down your chimney shaft, you should make sure your damper is left closed while these birds are still inside your chimney, and avoid using your fireplace during Chimney Swift breeding season. It is imperative that you have your chimney serviced as soon as these young birds flee the nest! “Swifts nests are small cup-shaped structures constructed of small twigs and glued to the chimney wall with saliva. They are not a fire hazard, being far too small for that, but should always be removed after the birds have left in the fall. This does the swifts a favor, both by removing bird parasites and the nest structure itself, which might be used by returning swifts, but could be unstable enough to collapse during the nesting period. Swifts do tend to return to the same nesting site year after year, if available” (Source: The Humane Society).
WHY SHOULD YOU CARE?
The acidic feces of Chimney Swifts become corrosive when left to accumulate, eating away at paint, metal – even concrete! This can cause significant structural damage if not properly removed. The Chimney Swift Conservation Association developed ChimneySwifts.org in an effort to promote education and conservation of Chimney Swifts. According to this educational website, all chimneys need to be professionally serviced each year, not only for the safety of the Chimney Swifts, but for the safety of the homeowner as well. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises that, “If there are bird or bat droppings near your home, you should have it cleaned up.” The unsanitary droppings can cause a potentially serious condition called Histoplasmosis, which can lead to long-term infections in lungs and other organs, including your eyes! According to the National Eye Institute, “…histoplasmosis, even mild cases, can later cause a serious eye disease called ocular histoplasmosis syndrome (OHS), a leading cause of vision loss in Americans ages 20 to 40.”
THEY’RE NOT ALL BAD.
Despite the hazards that can accompany these uninvited temporary tenants, Chimney Swifts can actually be quite beneficial to the environment. They feed on mosquitos, termites, and other insects. An important fact to consider is that it can sometimes be easier for Chimney Swifts to make their way into your chimney than it is for them to get out. According to The Humane Society, “chimneys lined with metal should always be capped, as birds that enter these can easily become trapped.” Sadly, many birds and other wildlife can easily become trapped inside your chimney, and die in there as a result. This is one of many reasons to make sure you have a regularly scheduled service with Chimney Champions to ensure that your home, your health – and the Chimney Swifts’ lives – are protected.
If you’re interested in going the extra mile to find out what you can do to help protect these beautiful creatures, visit the North American Chimney Swift Nest Site Research Project to learn about Chimney Swift Towers, and how you can help!