When the winter hearth fires are soon put out until next autumn comes, this article, how to make your chimney a home for chimney swifts, is an inspiration to an urban wildlife lover (click the link for a 6-minute read). Note: a chimney swift is a bird, an aerial insectivore. Not a dusty child from a Charles Dickens novel!
The key point is if your chimney is not lined with a metal tube, you’re in luck! You could host some chimney swifts. Their numbers have dwindled and habitat has declined, but with an open-sided chimney cap and a good cleaning of your chimney, you could take part in boosting their numbers now!
At Le Nichoir, where I have volunteered in the past, they have an aviary for rehab and a habitat for healthy chimney swifts. As I later found out, Hurricane Wilma in 2005 decimated Quebec’s population of chimney swifts. Their population still needs help.
One of my friends, a wildlife technical teacher, lives on the fourth floor of an apartment building on the edge of Côte-des-Neiges. There are many chimney swifts in Côte-des-Neiges and Notre-Dame-de-Grace – you can see and hear their aerial acrobatics on most late afternoons in summer. My friend, and another nearby as well, has had a bat swoop in through her open balcony door. Here is a photo of a chimney swift which did the same, which she caught in her kitchen.
This is what we biologists call the dorsal view. Here is one in profile:
And if you want to see, hear, and learn more about chimney swifts, visit their All About Birds page. They also have an article for “It Sounds Like There Are Birds Stuck In My Chimney. What Should I Do?”
So yes – your call to action here is check if you can accommodate chimney swifts in your chimney. And if you can, please do.
Also published on Medium.