Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Chimney Swifts

This year we got another family of chimney swifts in our chimney. And like last year their nest fell and we had these four baby swifts in our fireplace. The chimney is their natural habitat, evolved after their home of hollowed out trees began to dwindle. The migrate through Austin each year and many live in chimney's across Rosedale. You can see them emerge at night and fill the twilight sky. They typically move in and are gone within a month and always in spring so it doesn't conflict with fire season.

Of all nights, it happened the night before we left on our trip. At least it was not while we were away. After much debate and a consultation with the swift guru who happens to live in Austin we were able to put them back in the chimney.

How you may ask? I fashioned a nest out of a basket lined with a square of t-shirt. We put the remaining nest in the basket along with the four baby birds. David had to break one free as it was still stuck in a part of the nest.

Then david put them up above the damper and sealed off the fireplace and propped the next with cardboard. Soon we could hear the parents returning to feed them and happy chirping.

Upon our return we continued to hear happy chirps. Although later we found out that Isabel our housekeeper found two dead birds in the house. Another bird escaped after we returned and Jo our cat quickly caught her. We had tons of rain and I think it loosened our fireplace blockade. We still heard lots of chirpping and flapping of an adult swooping down to feed them so we know some survived. Eventually they grew up and flew away. Swift care is a lot of work.
Next year we need to remember to block off the chimney before they arrive.

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