Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Chimney Swifts

This morning I stopped by Wild Bird Rescue on the way to work and was on the porch with Bob, the Executive Director, before leaving, watching the sun come up. The chimney swifts started coming out of the chimney swift tower.

Chimney swifts are some of my favorite birds and I lobbied hard to get a chimney swift tower built. Chimney swifts are declining in numbers across most of their range, probably because people now cap their chimneys. Although chimneys are not the only place these birds nest, they are an important nesting site. Chimney swifts also nest in hollow trees, cisterns, silos, and barns. Chimney swifts fly at all times they are not roosting. Once they leave the tower in the morning, they fly all day, capturing and eating insects on the wing.

Chimney swifts build a nest out of small twigs and saliva, which is the glue that holds the nest together and attaches the nest to the wall of the structure. Each tower has one nesting pair, although several birds may share the tower. The other birds that roost in the tower are unmated birds. It appears the unmated birds assist in the raising of the brood in the one nest. The young birds may cling to the side of the tower and exercise their wings. Once they fly out of the roost, the parents will not feed them again, although the young will continue to return to the roost at night.

The chimney swifts will be leaving soon for the Amazon Basin and I will be listening for their chittering call in the spring.

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