Critter Corner - Chimney
DID YOU KNOW:
Chimney swifts are not able
to stand upright. Instead, they must cling to a vertical
surface. Their small, strong feet are each tipped with
four sharp claws that act like grappling hoots to hold them
firmly in their roost. Additional support comes from stiff
tail feather shafts.
Chimney swifts feast on flying insects such as
mosquitoes, mayflies, caddis flies and even ballooning spiders.
They spend daylight hours consuming as many as 2000 insects
daily, with up to 200 held in he throat at one time. They
drink and bathe by dipping in pond or river water as they fly
Chimney swifts nest and roost
in hollow trees,
air shafts and masonry chimneys. The inside surface of the
structure must be rough enough for them to grip to the sides.
Their shallow half-cup nest is made of twigs cemented together
with saliva and fastened to the wall. Since they never
perch, twigs for the nest are snapped off with their feet as
they fly by. Typically, there is only one nest per site.
Both parents share in incubating and raising their two to five
offspring, At 28-30 days of age, the young take their
first flight with their parents.
Chimney swifts nest
throughout the United States, except for most
states. They migrate to the Amazon basin to spend the
winter. Plentiful insects are a must for survival, so they
fly south when the weather gets cold.
Chimney swifts are considered
one of the fastest fliers in the bird world. Flight and
great aerial maneuvers help this bird escape predators.
Chimney swifts have been
called flying cigars and bows-and-arrows because of their
shape while in flight.
The chimney swift
population declined when
people began removing dead trees. Then the numbers
increased as chimneys were built. Now chimney
construction has changed and chimney swift populations may
be at risk.
Some caring people have
begun construction special towers to attract chimney swifts
so the birds can help keep mosquito numbers low.
Lakeside Nature Center
and the Friends of Lakeside Nature Center have constructed a
tower at the Center. You can see inside using the
swift cam in the Nature Center Building.
To learn more about
chimney swifts, visit
(Photo credits: Portrait of
chimney swift, Joyce Rosson, FOLNC Volunteer; Swifts in nest
nest from Illinois State Museum; Swifts in flight, Missouri
Department of Conservation)