Chimney swifts are birds that enjoy close contact with humans, often nesting in chimneys just above the fireplace. If you are lucky, you’ll hear their soft, chittering calls as they raise a family.
Just be sure you keep the damper closed while the birds are in residence.
Small birds with a slender body, chimney swifts use glue-like saliva to cement their nest to a chimney wall. Their feet are such that they cannot perch, but instead cling to the vertical walls inside chimneys or in hollow trees or caves.
Some people try to attract chimney swifts by putting up a tower designed for their special needs. You can see such a tower at the Patsy Glenn Refuge in Wimberley, a bird sanctuary located just across from the Wimberley Convention Center.
Most of this bird’s active life is spent in the air, catching insects on the wing. To bathe, it will fly down and smack its body against the water surface and then bounce up and shake the water from its feathers as it flies away.
Chimney swifts breed throughout the eastern half of the United States and fly south to Mexico and Central America for the winter.
I once had a family of swifts above one of my fireplaces and very much enjoyed their soft chittering on a summer evening. Unfortunately, I became worried about a raccoon coming down the chimney and had a metal cap installed.
I now regret that decision and believe I was overly cautious. I miss my little birds and their soft evening calls. I will soon have that cap removed and just hope the chimney swifts will return.