Chimney Swifts – Natural Insect Control

June 11, 2008 by  
Filed under Features

If you are having an insect problem then you’d best see what you can do to attract one of nature’s best insect control methods: the chimney swift. This adorable little bird is commonly found throughout the United States – from the eastern seaboard to the Rocky Mountains. This is fortunate news for bird lovers looking for the next bug zapper because, unlike the three other species of swift found in North America, the chimney swift can be found in virtually every corner of the country.

Swifts are small birds that fly fast and are able to hunt insects while in flight. Their main peculiarity is their inability to perch or stand upright. While most other songbirds are like this, the chimney swift must use its claws and short tail feathers to cling to whatever is in the vicinity – be it rocks, trees or chimneys. Prior to the availability of chimney’s these delightful little birds nested and roosted primarily in hollow trees. However, land development has resulted in the destruction of much of their natural breeding sites and so they have had to find an alternative place to nest. Traditional old stone chimney’s provide the perfect substitute. Unlike slippery metal chimney’s, which should be permanently capped to avoid wildlife accidents, stone or clay chimney’s have plenty for these little birds to cling to.

If the idea of having a bird living in your chimney doesn’t immediately appeal to you, you might want to consider a few facts before making up your mind on the matter. For starters, the number of chimney swifts has been suffering a 1.4 percent decline in many areas in the U.S. each year. This means that these delightful little birds are in need of help to avoid becoming endangered. In opening up your chimney by cleaning them out at the beginning of March and leaving them uncapped until October, you provide these birds with place to breed and so help them in the fight against eventual extinction. However, choosing to have these little creatures share your home with you has another benefit: highly efficient pest control. Chimney swifts consume one-third of their weight in flying insects daily. If you are having problems with mosquitoes and flies, there could hardly be a more environmentally friendly solution!

While conservation authorities have tried to preserve the natural habitats of these birds and have provided artificial roosting sites for them; we can all do our bit to help. If you do choose to open your chimney up as a potential roosting site, you would do well to eliminate pesticides from your home to avoid accidentally poisoning the birds. If you do not want to have the birds living in your chimney but you would like them on your property, you might consider building your own chimney swift tower, which the birds can use for nesting and roosting. Leaving dead trees on your property where it is safe to do so will also encourage these birds to stay. However, the most important thing you can do is support the preservation of old-growth forest to ensure that more of their habitat is not lost to the greed of industry.

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