Lakeside Nature Center
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 over.
Chimney swifts nest and roost in hollow trees, smokestacks, 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 Western 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.
To learn more about chimney swifts, visit www.chimneyswifts.org or
(Photo credits: Portrait of chimney swift, Joyce Rosson, FOLNC Volunteer; Swifts in nest from www.chimneyswifts.com; Swift nest from Illinois State Museum; Swifts in flight, Missouri Department of Conservation)