This slender, dark grayish brown bird is often described as a “flying cigar.” It has sweeping, slender pointy wings and a stubby rounded body.
You’ll never see a Chimney Swift perched; it can only cling, and only does that at night when it roosts in hollow upright structures like chimneys. Otherwise it’s on the wing all day long! It builds its nest in the chimney, fastening a little half-moon structure to the masonry wall with special glue. This species formerly had the common name of American Swift, and used hollow trees. With the felling of great American forests, it adapted by choosing chimneys. Now even chimneys are scarcer because people cap their chimneys and because the birds can’t cling to modern chimney linings of slick metal.
What brings it to the SBG?
Food. Chimney Swifts have been seen doing their amazing aerobatics over the habitat, gathering insects with agility and at high speed.
When can I see it?
March through October. Then the Chimney Swift migrates all the way to the Amazon Basin to winter. You may not be able to see them anytime if current declines are not arrested; they are currently listed as “Near Threatened.” Efforts are underway to try to create more habitat by uncapping chimneys and even building artificial ones.