Richard and Diane Van Vleck Personal Pages
The Home Habitat

chimney swift nest in chimney

Chimney Swift

Chaetura pelagica

The good news is that we have always had chimney swifts nesting in one of the chimney flues in our house. The bad news is that we have always had only 4 to 8 adults each year, with no sign of an expanding colony. One pair usually nests in the west chimney, in the flue used by the wood stove in the kitchen. At times, it appeared that a second pair might be nesting in the other chimney, but the other adults may just be unmated helpers. All 6 chimney flues have bends in them, making it impossible to see from one end to the other. When we have a cold snap in May, we cannot light a fire, for fear of asphyxiating the swifts or causing them to desert their nesting site. When the barn owls left the east chimney to use the attic nestbox, a pair of chimney swifts moved into the flue traditionally used by the male owl. Rearing young in a carcinogen coated chimney has never appealed to me. Someday I will make a chimney swift tower.

Aug 3, 2004 We now have eight chimney swifts performing their aerial display over the house each evening. Four must be the fledglings. Their coordinated flights are unlike anything our swallows or martins do. Is it just for the sheer pleasure of high speed synchronized flight?

Jan 7, 2015 After years of finding fallen swift nests at the bottom of the chimney and often dead nestlings, we have finally built a swift shaft in the silo. The crumbling brick surface in our very old chimneys are not safe nest sites. There are many other mid-19th C brick farm houses in the area that could be used by chimney swifts, but many likely either are in equally poor condition or have metal liners or caps. Much is written about the problem of modern chimneys excluding swifts, but an even greater problem for them may be inviting them to a chimney where their nest and eggs or young may be washed down in the first heavy rain.

2001 Chimney Swift nest cam and new swift shaft in the silo

Back to birds page


2022 update - Return of the barn owls
2021 Chimney Swift tower success!!!
2020 Barn Swallow nesting
Barn swallow nest cups
2019 Barn Swallows and Black Rat Snakes

2018 - The Barnyard Balance of Nature Goes Awry
Black rat snakes vs barn swallows, Northern flickers, kestrels and others

2018 Purple Martin preference for clam shells
2017 - Return of the Monarchs!
2017 Purple Martin prey photos
2010 - 2016 Northern flicker nestings
2014 house wren gourd use
2014 - A dramatic loss of many types of insects
2019-2020 Purple Martin nesting
2014 barn owl nesting - prey study
A new barn swallow shelter for 2013
2010 barn owl nesting
2010 Update
2016-2017 Kestrel nestings
Starling traps
Using blinds in the home habitat
Providing perches for birds
Providing snags for wildlife
The ugly young maple
2001 - 2013 nest cams
Use of tomato cages as hunting perches by insectivorous song birds
Vultures, beetles and the resurrection of life

Species of interest in our yard - photos and articles
barn owl American kestrel purple martin barn swallow Eastern bluebird
tufted titmouse Eastern phoebe yellow shafted flicker tree swallow chimney swift
house wren big brown bat Carolina wren brown thrasher catbird
cedar waxwing Northern mockingbird
Yellow warbler Acadian flycatcher

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