A bird best identified by silhouette, the smudge-gray Chimney Swift nimbly maneuvers over rooftops, fields, and rivers to catch its food. Its tiny body, curving wings, and stiff, shallow wingbeats give it a flight style as distinctive as its fluid, chattering call. This enigmatic little bird spends almost its entire life airborne. When it lands, it can’t perch—it clings to vertical walls inside chimneys or in hollow trees or caves. This species has suffered sharp declines as chimneys fall into disuse across the continent.
The “flying cigar” silhouette of the Chimney Swift is a common sight all summer in the skies over eastern cities and towns. Lakes and rivers are especially good places to look for swifts, where they often forage along with swallows, which have broader wings and more fluid wingbeats. Be sure to keep an ear out for their distinctive, high-pitched chattering calls—they often call on the wing while foraging.
After taking the fun quiz below head on over to The Lab of Ornithology’s All About Birds to learn more and find out what you can do to help the survival of these neat little birds.
And, you might also enjoy taking action by doing more to help these birds by visiting The Chimney Swift Conservation Project you will learn what you can build with your family (great project for kids, clubs and scouts) in your own backyard to be a good Chimney Swift Landlord. You may also enjoy Registering your Chimney Swift Tower too!
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