I Hear Birds in My Chimney!
If you have a chimney and hear chirping in your home, you’re probably not going crazy. You may actually be playing host to family of chimney swifts, a small, migratory bird named for its penchant for using chimneys as nesting grounds.
Birds in your chimney might be a problem, or they might not, depending on how you look at it. Many homeowners are glad to give chimney swifts a temporary home during seasons of warm weather before they migrate southward for the winter. Others are irritated by the constant chirping of the chicks that starts right after they’re hatched.
What you can and cannot do about these birds in your chimney
Other bird species as well as squirrels, bats, snakes and other wildlife that are known to inhabit chimneys can be removed by a trained chimney professional. Not so with chimney swifts. The species is protected under the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which makes it unlawful to physically remove them from their homes.
This means, if you currently have a family of chimney swifts living in your chimney, there’s nothing you can do about them – at least for the time being. They will leave on their own when colder weather arrives. This is when you can do something about them.
Protecting your chimney from inhabitants
Unless you specifically want chimney swifts – and all kinds of other small animals – in your chimney, the wise move is to have a chimney cap installed. The cap will keep out animals as well as flying debris such as leaves and twigs. Chimney caps also function to prevent excess water from rain and snow from entering your chimney system.
If for whatever reason you prefer to not have a chimney cap but you still want to discourage chimney swifts from getting into your chimney, a metal flue liner might do the trick. Chimney swifts have very sticky saliva, which allows them to attach their nests to porous vertical surfaces. A metal surface might discourage them from calling your chimney home.
If you do want to host chimney swifts
If you enjoy providing a home for these birds, it’s not hard to attract them, if they live in your area. And it’s not hard to keep attracting them, because they tend to nest in the same places throughout their lives.
When the burning season is over, assuming you have a chimney cap, simply remove it. When these birds are nesting in your chimney, make sure to keep your fireplace damper closed so baby chicks won’t fall down into the firebox.
Remember, chimney swifts won’t overstay their welcome – when it gets cold, they’ll be gone. Once they’ve left, you can re-install your chimney cap. At this time, you also should schedule a chimney cleaning to remove not only the birds’ nesting material but any other debris and, if you have a wood-burning fireplace, flammable creosote.
Regular chimney cleaning and inspection should be performed whether or not you use your chimney to provide temporary housing to chimney swifts. Annual cleaning by certified chimney sweeps is recommended by every fire-safety agency in the U.S.
When it’s time to clean your chimney and remove everything except chimney swifts, count on Hudson Valley Chimney of Poughkeepsie, NY, to do the job quickly and completely. Give us a call at (845) 471-1071.