Chimney Swifts are as fond as your chimney as you are (perhaps even more so) and could be planning a visit quite soon. As a chimney owner in the Indiana region, it is important that you are informed about these birds, their nesting patterns and the safety procedures to carry out if/when you encounter them in the coming summer months.

About Chimney Swifts

These peculiar little birds (often described as looking like “cigars with wings”) spend almost their entire life in flight; they cannot perch upright when they land and must cling vertically to trees or walls. Pre-industrialization, Chimney Swifts nested and roosted mostly in hollow trees and caves. As their natural habitats were destroyed, these adaptable birds found satisfactory substitutes in chimneys. Chimneys serve almost as man-made replicas of the Chimney Swifts’ hollow nesting trees.

In the summertime, Chimney Swifts return from South America and migrate back to Indiana and the eastern United States for their breeding season. Breeding season is nesting season, and these birds will be making their homes in any available chimneys. Most homeowners install chimney caps (something we advise you to do), which prevent the invasion of these and other creatures. However, if your chimney does not have a cap, you may find a family of Chimney Swifts has moved in with you for the summer.


If you find that Chimney Swifts have housed themselves in your Indiana chimney this summer, consider hosting them for the time being. Typically, their eggs will hatch, you will experience some noisy young fledglings and then, within about two weeks, they will remove themselves. At this point, you can have your chimney swept and install a chimney cap to avoid housing other creatures in the future.

If you have some Chimney Swift boarders and are not feeling particularly hospitable, do not attempt to disturb them or remove them yourselves. Chimney Swifts are protected by the federal government under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The statute makes it illegal to disturb the birds, their young, their eggs or their nests during the breeding season. These birds are beneficial to the environment and helpful insect eaters. Their numbers are in decline, and it’s important to avoid harming them.

Only a professional with a permit can safely and legally remove the birds and nests. Contact your local animal control services or Humane Society to request professional advice and help with the removal of the Chimney Swifts. Once the Chimney Swifts have left your chimney — either on their own or with a professional — it is important to have the chimney swept, cleaned and capped to prevent any further altercations with the birds or any other creatures. Don’t worry; these birds will not be left homeless. Members of the Chimney Safety Institute of America, National Chimney Sweep Guild and other organizations construct nesting towers to provide more suitable housing for the Chimney Swifts. Chimney sweeps are fond of Chimney Swifts and want the birds and chimney owners to be safe and happy.