Before you know it Spring will arrive. As it does, many migratory birds will begin to head north again for the nesting season. One bird that can create a serious nuisance for homeowners is the chimney swift.
We regularly receive calls from homeowners who have birds in their chimney. Unfortunately, if they are chimney swifts there is nothing we can do; because chimney swifts are federally protected, the only way to get rid of them is to keep them out of your chimney in the first place or wait until they leave naturally.
Chimney swifts are small brown and grey migratory birds. Found throughout North America, chimney swifts once built their nests inside hollow or dead trees. As cities have taken over much of their former nesting grounds, the birds have adapted and begun nesting in chimneys.
While chimneys provide the same dark, enclosed, and protected space as a hollow tree, it also means that your fireplace cannot be used for several months. Chimney swifts can continue to cause problems even after they’ve flown away; nesting materials may partially or completely block the flue, preventing smoke and gas from properly venting. In addition, dry or brittle nesting materials can also create a potential fire hazard if they were to ignite due to an errant spark or ember. Lastly, because they are a migratory bird, chimney swifts can carry disease over long distances through a variety of habitats.
Preventing chimney swifts
As with all animal entry, the best way to keep chimney swifts from getting into your chimney is with a good chimney cap. Chimney caps protect the top of your flue and are an extremely important part of keeping your chimney in good condition. Without a chimney cap, your flue is exposed to a number of damaging things including animals entry, moisture, and other debris.
Because chimney swifts are migratory birds, they often return to the exact same nesting ground year and year. Unless you want your chimney to become a yearly chimney swift nest, it is extremely important to have your chimney inspected and repaired to prevent them from getting back in.
I have chimney swifts – now what?
While other birds can often successfully be removed from the chimney, chimney swifts cannot. Chimney swifts are protected under the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act. This means that removing or destroying nests with eggs or young hatchlings is a federal offense punishable by law. Because of this, no certified or reputable chimney sweep will remove a chimney swift nest until the birds have left.
Luckily for homeowners, chimney swifts have a short nesting cycle. The entire nesting cycle is typically finished within 6 weeks, allowing you to have the chimney cleaned and resume normal fireplace usage.
Whether you’ve had chimney swifts in the past or think they may be in your chimney now, call New Buck Chimney Services today. Our expert technicians can help you identify whether or not the birds are chimney swifts; if they are, we can help clean and repair your chimney once they’ve left to keep them from coming back.