Wild Wings Rescue
Birds in your Chimney

If you hear loud noises from your chimney it is most likely baby swifts more commonly called Chimney Swifts because they primarily build their nest in chimneys. The noises occur when the babies are being fed and should be gone within a week or two. It is illegal to remove the babies from their nest - they are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and are an important part of every neighborhood due to their consumption of flying insects (including mosquitoes).

If the nest falls or if a baby falls from its nest, it is easy to get them back up in the chimney. It is vitally important to get the babies back in their nest or the nest back up in the chimney as soon as possible. Never ever place the babies in a box or nest outside - they will die. Please follow the instructions below and call if you have any concerns or questions. If you do not want to handle or deal with the birds, please ask a neighbor, friend, relative or call us. Healthy babies do not belong in rehab or raised by humans.

If the whole nest has fallen, place the nest of babies up inside the chimney on the shelf (there is usually a shelf), and the mom will come down and feed them. You can put some cushioning (maybe a towel) around the nest to hold it upright. The nest needs to be placed upright and stable as if it were on a wall so the babies can hold on to the sides when they are old enough. If there is no shelf, the nest can be placed upright, with a cloth around it to hold it in place, inside a small basket and then attached with strong tape to a broomstick handle. Once ready, put the babies in the nest and put the whole thing up inside the chimney.

If a single baby or two falls, do the same as above. They can be placed in a small size, small weave basket and placed as high up in the chimney as possible and the mom will come feed them.

If a fully feathered baby is down in the chimney simply place it on the inside of the chimney wall as high as possible and see if it can climb back up on its own.

Important:

  • keep babies warm either in warm hands or in a cloth-made nest on a heating pad set on low while they are waiting to get back up the chimney - they can't stay warm in an air-conditioned home.
  • NEVER place the babies outside, in a tree or box. The only place they can go in up in the chimney!!!
  • Never place injured or sick babies back up in the chimney
  • nest can not be removed, moved to another chimney or out in a tree - their nests, eggs and babies are federally protected. Fines of up to $15,000 can be given when violations occur. Call the Fish and Wildlife local office for more information on this law or if you know of someone who is violating this law.
  • it is okay to touch the babies without fear of them being rejected - the parents will take over once the babies are back up in the chimney
  • be very careful with their little feet and toes - they use them to hold on to the bricks in the chimney once they are feathered
  • keep in mind, the parent bird will land upright and hang on the side of the bricks or basket to feed the babies - make sure the setup is safe and won't fall if she lands on it
  • always go from the inside of the chimney and not the top (on the roof)
  • Never try to feed the babies without talking to us first - a lot of harm can be done
  • we have never found a way to re-connect the nest to the wall because the nests are built from tiny twigs and saliva - it is very important for the babies to stay inside that nest if possible - their little feet need the twigs
  • the babies eat particular insects every 1/2 hour to hr depending on their age, so get them back up there as soon as possible

NEVER cap a chimney or burn anything in the fireplace between May and September!!!

Interestingly....

Before European settlers arrived the Chimney Swift nested on cave walls and inside hollow trees1. When the descendants of those European settlers built their towns and cities with open brick chimneys, the Chimney Swift was a beneficiary of their modern technology. That 'modern' era is now history. In modern buildings, chimney have been replaced with cylindrical, often covered, pipes that are no longer suitable for nesting. With the reduced availability of nesting sites, the population has begun to decline. What is worse, modern city dwellers often regard these birds are a nuisance. Mid June through August is the breeding season for Swifts. Bryan Brasher wrote a wonderful article about Chimney Swifts in the Sunday, June 22 Commercial Appeal. 'Swifts can be surprise in fireplace'
1Cink, Calvin L. and Charles T. Collins. 2002. Chimney Swift (Chaetura pelagica), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology

2010 Brenda Lajoan, All Rights Reserved