The outdoors of Blane Klemek: Chimney Swift
Neither swallow nor nightjar, neither hawk nor enemy, there is a bird that looks like a bat and even flies like a bat, yet is closer to hummingbirds. The birds I am referring to are none other than those belonging to a small group of avifauna known collectively as swifts.
North America is home to only four species of swifts: Black Swifts, Vaux, White-throated, and Chimney Swifts. And it is the Chimney Swift, the most common swift of all and found almost everywhere east of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers, which also inhabits Minnesota. If you’ve ever been to a town or town where the chimneys on the roofs of old buildings reach for the sky and other chimney-like structures / towers are plentiful, then you have surely seen dozens of Chimney Swifts that chirping wildly spinning in the sky to capture insects. .
Chimney Swifts are charming, somewhat mysterious and very distinctive birds. Belonging to the avian family of Apodidae, whose Greek word “apod” means “without feet”, they are birds characterized by long thin wings and very small feet. Other traits shared by swifts include short, slender bodies and inflexible wrists that give the telltale appearance of stiff bat-like wing beats.
These interesting birds are not very large, only about five inches long from their beak to the tip of their short, stocky tail, although the span of their wings, which is about a foot long, gives them the appearance of a bigger bird. Chimney Swifts, like their parents the Common Nighthawk and Common Nighthawk, are expert pilots who are particularly adept at capturing flying insects in flight. In fact, chimney swifts are so well adapted to flight that they rarely remain stationary except for roosting and hatching eggs.
Before urban civilization and buildings with chimneys, chimney swifts nested in tree cavities, hollow trees and caves – and some populations still can – but, like purple swallows, chimney swifts depend almost exclusively on structures. artificial for nesting, resting and shelter. With us only in spring and summer, chimney swifts spend their winters in the South American countries of Brazil, Chile, Ecuador and Peru.
As mentioned earlier, chimney swifts also nest in other structures, not just chimneys. The nests are somewhat fragile and made up of small twigs woven together and stuck to vertical surfaces by the saliva of the birds. Their special saliva is a sticky, glue-like substance that holds the nest firmly against structures such as silos, air vents, lighthouses, old barns, cisterns, wells and all kinds of other objects. and buildings.
Interestingly, chimney swifts are not a very well studied species. Given their almost entirely aerial lifestyle and secret, inaccessible nesting and roosting grounds, it’s no wonder these birds aren’t as well known as most other wild bird species. Yet one can easily see these special birds with a good pair of binoculars and follow them as they fly and capture insects.
All kinds of flying insects are on the menu of chimney swifts. The location of towns such as Bemidji, Detroit Lakes, and Crookston, with the lakes and rivers adjacent to these towns, provide almost limitless food, not to mention plenty of nesting habitat. Almost all flying insects – species of flies, beetles, bees and wasps, mayflies and many other species of flying insects – are easily captured by expert flying swifts.
To learn more about Chimney Swifts, visit the website, http://www.chimneyswifts.org/
Created by the Chimney Swift Conservation Association, the website aims to,
“… promote the conservation of Chimney Swifts through public education, preservation of existing habitat and creation of new nesting and roosting sites. Indeed, I was surprised to learn that the you can build a nesting tower for the chimney swifts that attract nesting chimney swifts The website shows how to build your own nesting tower.
Chimney Swifts are fascinating and lively birds. That one species of bird has adapted to breed and nest primarily in urban centers across North America is truly a wonder that deserves our attention and protection as we get out and enjoy the great outdoors.