Formally known as Chaetura pelagica, these birds are frequently mistaken for bats as they fly high in the sky. They do fulfill a similar purpose. Wheeling around with a persistent chatter, the chimney swifts thrive by eating flying insects such as termites and mosquitoes. After a hard Florida rain, you may be lucky enough to see them flying just above your head, since more insects come out at that time. These birds are migratory and spend their winter in the upper Amazon basin in Peru, Chile, Equador and Brazil.
At Kapp and Kappy B&B we have a small flock of chimney swifts that returns each year from its migration. Ours are usually in the second big flock that returns. The first flock goes farther East towards Dakin Ave. About a week later, ours appear again. One or two pairs nest in our chimney and sometimes are successful at producing young. The typical habitat for these birds are hollowed out large trees which are hard to find, so chimneys or other structures with openings at the top are used as a proxy. Unfortunately in Historic Downtown Kissimmee, many homeowners have capped their chimneys to "keep the birds out". We encourage people to open their chimneys up and learn to coexist with the swifts. There is an article link below with tips on how to help them. We might end up with less need for mosquito spraying and drywood termite tenting if more people create habitat for the swifts.
To learn more about Chimney swifts and how to help improve their habitat, you can visit one of the following sites:
- Audubon Society Field Guide - https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/chimney-swift
- Chimney Swift Conservation Association - http://www.chimneyswifts.org/ - This group has a design for a tower that you can build yourself to help create more habitat for these birds
- Humane Society -http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/swifts/tips/solving_problems_with_chimney.html
- Birds of North America - https://birdsna.org/Species-Account/bna/species/chiswi/introduction