Chimney Swift Rescue

I FORGOT to tell you about the excitement that occurred here earlier in the week. Late Wednesday evening, a nest of Chimney Swifts came detached from one of my chimneys, and landed, kerplunk, in the parlor fireplace. There were four babies in the nest; one dead and three living. When, by Thursday morning, the parents had made no rescue attempt, yours truly felt he must intervene:

I gently placed the hatch-lings in a cloth-lined shoebox, and transported them to Jane Beavan, an experienced wildlife rehabilitator. According to Jane, whose kindness is as vast as her sanctuary, such young swifts are difficult to keep alive. I’m hoping for the best.

Chimney Swifts, should you ever encounter them, are on the Protected Migratory Birds list. Why? Because most homeowners today have capped the birds’ favorite nesting sites — chimneys. You can read all about these fascinating mosquito-eating creatures here.

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  1. Andrew Thompson says:

    Lucky thing they fell into YOUR fireplace!

  2. You have a good heart, Kevin. I knew I liked you!

  3. Will you keep us updated on their condition? Poor things look so helpless. I hope they make it!

  4. Poor little things. I hope they can make it! Thanks goodness you know a great rehabber too!

  5. That's heartbreaking. I wish the little birds the best!

  6. Wow, Kevin! You really saved those poor birds! Good for you and for Jane! Do you think the name 'Swift' is a coincidence?…I think not!

  7. aww poor little guys. Hope their ok 🙂

  8. LOL–My husband and I had a similar experience. We were watching a movie and I kept hearing a weird sound. My husband could not hear it and it was not until our cats went nuts around the fireplace did he finally hear the distinct sounds the little swifts make. Mind you, at the time, we had no idea what was in our fireplace! We thought it was a rabid racoon or something. Finally, my 6 foot, 210 pound husband-who was scared to death- looked through the damper with a mirror did we learn that all that hissing was three little swifts! we also called a local lady who rehabs animals. Once you hear a chimmney swift you will never forget it!

  9. Sylvia Neal says:

    I just love hearing of your experiences. We all can learn from them. Thanks.

  10. So what was the final outcome of the bird rescue caper ?

  11. Lynn – Thanks for asking. One swift died, but the other two lived to tell the tale. And another crew is in the chimney as I write this. Wish them luck!

  12. Great blog you have here.. It’s difficult to find good quality writing like yours nowadays. I really appreciate people like you! Take care!!

  13. .I have worked at a wildlife sanctuary for many years. Saving baby birds is not difficult in a bit. It just needs dedication. I especially recommend to keep an eye wherever you found the babies, because it will not be surprising to find a desperate mother looking for them all over the place, after you took the birds with you. Keep the babies safe and well fed, but look out for the mother for some days. If you see she’s looking for the babies put them on the ground where she can see them, but close to a bush or covered area, and keep yourself at a distance. The baby cannot fly but she will push it to a safe covered area to keep it as safe as possible. If you are positive there is no mother around (keep looking for some days) then adopt the bird (s) for good. While they are babies you can keep them in a little nest made out of the plastic or carton baskets where cherry tomatoes come at the supermarket, or a deep tray of the kind. You put some cotton at the bottom (not so much that the bird will be almost outside but just a bit for soft comfort while the birds are inside the basket) and you cover it with a nice and soft napkin or paper towel. You need to keep those babies warm, put them gently inside your little nest. Put the little nest inside an open carton box, just in case they fall out of it. In the meantime I recommend you get a cage to use it later. Get also some dry dog food, or dry cat food if the bird is one that you know it eats worms and insects. Wet the kibbles in a bit of water, to make them soft but not to the point they disintegrate. (Think of an Oreo cookie you want to dink it to make it soft, but you hate it when its so soft it drops inside your drink) When the babies open their beaks asking for food, you put half or whole soft kibble in it, depending how big the bird is. Please be patient while they swallow, don’t choke them! Feed them until they don’t ask for more. Change the paper towel often when they poop. At this stage they need no water. All they take is in the wet kibbles. When the babies start moving and getting out of the nest by themselves, put the nest in a cage just in case. Be careful that their tiny feet don’t get tangled in the cage. Keep feeding those birds with the same food until they are bigger and start to have feathers. When the baby is getting big but still does not fly, put it in a section of the garden where you can see what it’s doing: jumping around, trying to catch insects, inspecting and getting to know the new world!, etc. They do it by instinct. You must let it be as wild as possible but don’t leave it unsupervised, after a while bring it back to the cage to rest and feed more just in case. Also include a little container with water so it can take a bath, or drink water and maintain it clean. Little by little increase the time outside the cage. You’ll be surprise how the bird will keep coming back to you all the time, especially when it can fly, but the real idea is to get it back to the wild world. In a sanctuary this is the time when the bird is transferred to a big cage (big as a person big) outside, in the garden, to live in a controlled space, where it can feed by itself and fly a bit. But if that is not the case, keep observing you little baby until you see it catches food by itself, it flies safely, and is big enough to defend itself from other birds and predators. Then it’s time to let it fly away and be happy.

  14. Ella Kibler-White says:

    Dear Laura.
    While your advise may be well meant. not a single part of it is accurate for swifts. These are extremely difficult birds to raise. I have worked as a Rehabber for 25 years. What you’ve described above would probably work for a starling. Maybe a robin. Not a swift. Offering advise such as this on a public site is dangerous and will only lead to dead birds. Kindly rethink the post.

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