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Chimney Swift

The Chimney Swift is an insect eating bird, so there aren't really feeders for it; however, it does need habitat. 

Chimney Swifts used to live in old hollow trees.  Then, we decided to cut them down to make way for new trees, so we could harvest the lumber or firewood.  Even today, most forestry plans will include knocking down dead trees, which are a great habitat for Chimney Swifts, owls, woodpeckers and many other birds and wildlife.  

In the beginning of the United States being settled, there was an abundance of woodland, so nearly every home would have a woodstove...and a chimney.  These chimneys were made of brick, a great rough material for the chimney swift to hang onto.  So as the hollow trees disappeared, the Chimney Swift migrated to the chimney.  It was a great pairing in the United States.  The Chimney Swift arrived in April to May, when people wouldn't need the woodstove for heat and take over their chimneys for the summer. 

In the 1960's through the 1980's, homes became more efficient and burning wood is harder if you don't own a woodland and it is messy with bark, so we migrated from burning wood to burning oil, natural gas and LP or liquefied petroleum.  The chimneys slowly disappeared, and were replaced by smooth tubes running out of houses across the United States.  The chimneys which were once brick started being replaced by ones made of steel or had a steel lining, and were capped or screened, so animals and birds couldn't nest in them, which could cause a fire hazard, so they wouldn't need to be cleaned as often.

This again left the Chimney Swift homeless.  According to the

USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. 2012. North American Breeding Bird Survey 1966–2010 analysis., Chimney swifts have been on the decline between 1966 and 2010 at a rate of 2.2% per year and are currently in the "Near Threatened" category.

What can you do to help the Chimney swift?

- Chimney swifts are on the search for habitat.  It could be a hollow tree, an old open silo, a chimney, a church tower or similar structures.  If remodeling or cleaning up your land, consider leaving some of these structures for the Chimney Swift. 

- Build a chimney swift tower.  The best book I've found on Chimney Swift Towers is called, "Chimney Swift Towers, New Habitat for America's Mysterious Birds" by Paul & Georgean Kyle.  This book is available at www.chimneyswifts.org.  Along with the plans for building a Chimney Swift Tower, the book is also packed with information on Chimney Swifts. 



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