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Migratory Patterns of the Chimney Swift

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With the arrival of winter, chimney swifts, like many other birds, instinctively migrate south, leaving the United States entirely by early November. Headed for Peru and the Amazon Basin, they are sighted in the southern United States, both leaving and returning. Chimneys make nice nesting spots for a short stay on your roof, until colder weather forces them to carry on.

Chimney Swifts nesting

With long tubular bodies, chimney swifts gather to roost and can appear to swirl into chimneys like a whirlpool in the sea. They actually need chimneys to provide a habitat for them, with deforestation contributing to the destruction of their own. For this reason, homeowners need to protect their chimney or risk falling victim to migrating chimney swifts.

One way to protect the chimney from swifts is by having a chimney cap installed. There are a variety of caps available at different price points. Even if your budget is limited, the cost of the cap is surely offset in avoiding cleanup costs after the swift leaves in the winter. This, of course, is in addition to the fact that you will not lose your fireplace until the swifts decide to move on.

Not every chimney makes a suitable home for migrating chimney swifts, which breed in North America and fly south every winter. The chimney needs to be made of firebrick, stone, or flue tiles with mortar joints. Chimney swifts are able to cling to these materials and hang from the walls of the chimney. If your chimney consists of these materials, it is best to take preventative measures ASAP.

If you are unlucky enough to have a swift inhabit your chimney,  call a professional chimney sweep company as soon as possible to evaluate the situation. While you cannot remove the swift or harm them in any way while they are in the chimney, the professional can give you a plan of action once the birds have moved on. If this happens once, you will quickly understand why you need to avoid it from happening again.