Our Apex Chimney Inspector Explains How to Stop Chimney Swifts

May 15, 2020

While many types of birds have been known to nest in chimneys, the worst offender is doubtlessly the chimney swift. These deceptively harmless-looking little birds can occupy chimneys in the hundreds or thousands, causing a fire and sanitation hazard for homeowners. Even worse, since they are a protected species, chimney swifts can’t be legally removed once they’ve settled in—they can only be prevented from entering in the first place. Keep reading to learn how to secure your home from these flighty invaders.

What Are Chimney Swifts, And Why Are They Such a Problem?

Chimney swifts are small, cigar-shaped birds with long, slender wings. Like most swifts, these birds spend almost their entire lives in the air, only coming down to briefly nest and then leave again. One or two birds wouldn’t pose much of an issue, but unfortunately, chimney swifts live in massive communal roosts of hundreds or thousands. And since they migrate from South America to North America through a wide variety of habitats, they can carry a wide range of foreign bacteria and diseases, primarily histoplasmosis.

Once swifts have invaded a chimney, the homeowner must tolerate the smell and mess of bird feces and loud, disruptive chirping until they leave in late July. Even then, the problem isn’t over—since swifts are migratory birds, they will often return to the same nesting grounds year after year. If you don’t get a chimney inspection or chimney repair, your chimney may become an annual gathering place for chimney swifts!

How to Keep Chimney Swifts Out of Your Chimney System

Fortunately, the solution is simple. Chimney swifts almost always enter chimneys through a damaged chimney cap. Because swifts are so small, a chimney cap that is ill-fitting or has shifted since its initial installation may have a gap big enough for the bird to fit through. Small holes or breaks in the mesh or wire sides can also allow swifts to squeeze in. To keep swifts from invading your chimney, it is important to schedule a regular inspection from a chimney repair company. Chimney inspectors can ensure that the chimney cap is secure, the flue is clean, every other aspect of your chimney system is safe for use as well.

I Already Have Swifts in My Chimney – Now What?

If the birds in your chimney are found to be chimney swifts, unfortunately, nothing can be done. Chimney swifts are protected under the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which makes it a federal offense to damage or remove chimney swift nests until the hatchlings have left. Luckily for homeowners, chimney swifts have an extremely short nesting cycle; it takes just six weeks for hatchlings leaving the nest. You and your family will simply have to grin and bear it for a month or so, and then, take steps to ensure they don’t come back next year.

Need a Chimney Inspection in Apex, Cary, Garner, or Holly Springs?  

Since most swifts start to enter chimneys in the spring, when the fireplace system isn’t in use, most homeowners don’t notice them until it’s too late. Therefore, be proactive and schedule an Apex chimney inspection! To schedule an appointment with Nexus Chimney Services, please click here.