Thursday, August 10, 2006

The Great Chimney Swift Rescue

Yesterday, for the first time I heard a great chattering in my fireplace/chimney area. Frankly my first thought was some dumb sparrow built a nest on top the chimney and it fell down.... or the dumb sparrow fell itself. Or maybe there where Bats in the chimney roosting, except bats prefer a crevice.

Then about 10:30 there was a flapping in the fireplace, and upon investigation it was a small grey fledgling bird clinging to the side of the chimney in a bat-esque way. (you should note here that I am unable to kill animals, even mice, it just does not happen) And so killing the poor creature or tossing outside where its parents would never find it and it would starve is not an option.

And so I go got my trusty yellow bucket. The bird bucket. I use it to trap birds who have gotten into the house. (4 since we moved in in January, not countlng this recent adventure) And on one horrible stormy spring night the bucket housed a fledgling Robin that fell from its nest, could not yet fly, and was about to have a blessedly hard night. (See I could not even leave the robin out and "hope for the best")

Back to the bucket.. tossed a couple old towels in and then introduced the bird to his temporary sanctuary. It did finally occur to me I had seen in a bird field guid of my dads a pirture of a grey bird flying to a chimney. And I finally realized what my noisey little friend must be... and he had siblings. Because there was more noise up the chimney. One was sitting right on the flue/damper part that opens and closes.. so I donned a glove and gently removed him. I wondered if they where from the same family the second one was much younger.. and them I could here two more in the chimney .. plus i discvered the sticky wad of sticks on the damper.. that was the nest.Next I pulled the nest out.. then while the other two babies clung to the side of the chimney just above the damper I sat down to search the net for ideas on mounting a rescue.

What did I learn?

They Winter in Peru.. they wont spend the winter in my chimney! yay!!

The parents wont find them if they are not in the chimney, so no going outside with them..

Towels are bad, they get those long claws for hanging on the wall caught in them. (oops)

Only the juveniles make that terrible racket, and only for the last couple weeks before they leave the nest.

and sometimes you can put the nest back!!! (Hooray)


But there wasn't much left of the nest. and the best advice was to tape it to a broom and wedge it up in the chimney. I found an alumanim pole but I could figure out how to secure the nest to it so all 4 babies would fit. I got a big butter tub and thought about using it but it wouldn't fit throught the damper. So in a move that will delight my husband... I removed the damper piece that opens and shuts. next I wandered out to the shed to find something suitable to strap the nest to. I found a 1/4"x 4"x36" board. Then a sacraficed a tshirt. I cut off the sleaves and taped on to the top of the board then I used the second one to make a pocket to put the nest in. then I taped it up so it was stiff enough to hold the weight of a parent bird.  I was pretty proud of myself... i was too tired to even think about taking a single picture.

Then I removed the two babies still in the chimney.. and if one baby sounds the alarm they all do. I waited for them to quiet a bit and then one by one I put each little trouble maker into the nest.. they tried to crawl right out.. up that tshirt covered board. so I tokk to putting one in and holding my hand over them until they found a place to cling in the nest. after the three older ones where in I went to putting the runt in .. he was hardest to get to let go of my glove... they are strong little buggers. after they where all int eh nest I took a quick break so they could all calm down.

Then I gently pushed the board up the chimney until the bottom of the board was resting in the top of the flue. I nudged the board to see if it was secure, and then at 2am I went to bed. Today I can hear them Chirping at fairly regular intervals.. my hope is that it is when the parents are coming to feed them. I figure if I am serenaded for a week or two it is a good sign that the parents are feeding and they will leave after a time.  Hooray!

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  1. That's a lot of effort you put into keeping them safe and giving them a chance. I'm really impressed.

  2. For all I am bitchy beyond all reason sometimes I'm a big soft hearted mama bear when it comes to baby animal rescues

  3. Once, while taking care of my 5 yr old nephew, we decided to build a fire in the fireplace. I had just gotten it going good enough to close up the glass doors "when whoosh" a squirrel was on the other side of the glass. He was desparate to get out, and his tail was on fire, so I opened the doors. He immediately ran under my couch. I won't go into the whole ordeal except to say the squirrel survived OK and the gauze fabric under the couch did not start on fire.

  4. sonds like a whole lot of entertainment with the squirrel and a 5 year old... my five yearold wanted me to just leave the birdies alone so they would stop "screaming"

  5. We have the Brown Bat here, I like em, they're cool. I learned a trick yrs ago.When the bat(s) come around at dusk, throw up pebbles and they will dive for them. One swooped right next to my head one time. There radar (which is really like sonar) pick them up and they think they are Sparrows!Any follow up? Good Story, way to go!

  6. interesting bat tip, I'll have to try that, I think we dont see them out until august, I figure its a mom and babies since its late summer when we start to see them. It always seems like I've been waiting a long time to see them.All the birds kept making a racket for quite awhile and I could hear the parents in and out, and we never found evidence that anyone did not make it.And we have had the little guests every year since, and not more nest failures yet.

  7. yeah usually here too. Finally Im seeing life around here...I captured one of my other fave birds today and some others too. Phew! Spring is finally here!55 degrees tomorrow.Awe, thats good! I always find the Robins nests, I hope to find others this yr.