Skip to main content

Chimney Swifts Found Living in Our Second Chimney

If you've been following my blog, you may recall that last fall we discovered hundreds of dead birds in the chimney when we went to clean it for the installation of a pellet stove.  Now, we're ready to install a new wood stove in another section of our 1940s-era house.  The project includes replacing an old chimney liner and cap. So of course, we called Scott from Fire Pro Chimney Sweeping, since he was so great in dealing with our crazy birds-in-they-chimney situation last time.

We were more than a little worried about birds.  Part of the reason was because the old chimney liner had slid 3 feet down inside the chimney when the prior owners pulled their old wood stove out and took it with them. The cap attached to the top of the liner has been sitting there, recessed inside the chimney, for about 2 years now.  This situation has surely given room for birds to get inside.

The other reason we've been worried is because, with spring upon us, thousands of small swiftly-flying birds arrived about a week ago and have been circling our house.  They are swarming and diving, catching millions of insects that hatched recently with the arrival of spring's warmth.  We live along a creek that is lined with trees and provides a diverse habitat for wildlife.  Looking up into the sky, I can see an incredible number of birds. They zoom past our windows and circle around just above the treeline near to our house. Maybe they are actually chimney swifts.  It's hard to tell swallows from swifts.  Regardless, our neighbor has reported to us that birds just like these dive-bombed into our chimneys every year before we moved here, and the birds could also be seen flying around inside the house.  We thought we had until Memorial Day Weekend, as that is when his family traditionally gathered outside to watch the bird tornado dive into our chimney.  We certainly don't want the birds doing that again.

So up onto the rooftop Scott climbs and peers down inside the chimney liner.  He reports back to me that he can see about 30 birds clinging onto the sides, peering right back up at him.  At first, he thought they might be bats, but as he and his assistant began to work on removing the liner, birds flew down into the house.  The Fire Pro team hurried back inside the house, and using black garbage bags, they captured as many of the birds as they could for releasing outside.  Most of the birds flew right down the liner and into the garbage bag. 

A few of the birds refuse to leave the liner.  But the liner must come out, and so the birds were eventually removed when the Fire Pro team pulled the 25-foot liner all the way out.

A new liner was put into the chimney along with a sturdy new cap. While they worked, birds were still flying around trying to get was quite an ordeal to get the job done without trapping any birds inside the new liner.

When the Fire Pro team left, we thought we had the situation taken care of, but a few hours later more birds made themselves known.  We were getting the room tidied up when we became aware of the sound of wings fluttering inside the new wood stove. Poor little birds were trapped.

It was amazing how docile they actually were. One bird was easily picked up and carried outside.

The other bird took flight and crashed into a window before we could get it outside. He was stunned only on moment before flying away.

I'm hoping all those birds that are still swarming in the sky leave us alone, although their sheer numbers worry me a little bit.