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By Allison Manthorne, Aerial Insectivore Conservation Program Coordinator, Birds Canada

 

Earlier this spring, a dramatic video about birds flying into a living room via a chimney in Torrance, California, circulated online. Did you see it?

The birds in the video are Vaux’s Swifts, which are similar to the Chimney Swifts seen farther east. Both species belong to a group of beneficial birds known as “aerial insectivores” (birds that eat insects while flying), which is one of the most rapidly-declining bird groups in North America.

Swifts sometimes get a bad rap. But, fortunately, it’s possible for homeowners and swifts to coexist while avoiding scenes like the one in the video!

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Chimney Swift Photo: Ron D’Entremont

If you live in an area with swifts, here are quick and simple actions to keep swifts and homeowners safe and happy:

 

  • Get to know your mysterious housemates. Chimney Swifts and Vaux’s Swifts are fascinating birds! Visit the swift page on the Birds Canada website to learn how to identify swifts, why they use chimneys, and how you can help conserve these disappearing species.

 

  • Check your chimney. If you have a metal flue liner, make sure it has a properly installed cap to keep critters out. Metal flues are too narrow and slippery to allow animals to escape if they fly or crawl in. If you have a brick or clay flue, keep the fireplace damper closed when the chimney is not in use to create barrier between the chimney and the fireplace. Read our brochure for more tips.

 

  • Know your responsibilities. Chimney Swifts and Vaux’s Swifts are protected by federal and provincial legislation. If you encounter swifts on your property, contact wildlife authorities for guidance on how to help them while obeying the laws that protect birds and their habitats.

 

  • Report your sightings. Through our SwiftWatch program, Birds Canada and our partners work with landowners and managers to find Chimney Swift nest and roost sites, facilitate stewardship, and monitor populations across Canada. Your observations help us protect critical habitat, conduct important research, and engage Canadians in Chimney Swift conservation. Learn more.

 

  • Become a Chimney Swift Champion. Chimney Swifts need our help! If you host a Chimney Swift nest or roost on your property, request a free “Swift-friendly Property” sign to show your support and raise awareness about these special birds.

 

To request a sign or more information about swifts, please contact:

Maritimes – marswifts AT birdscanada.org

Ontario – ontarioswiftwatch AT birdscanada.org

 

Thank you for taking action and spreading the word!

 

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Chimney Swifts Photo: George Forsyth
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