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Chimney Swift

Chimney Swift
Chaetura pelagica
Swallow-like Birds | Family: Swifts, Apodidae

An estimated 6% of the species' North American breeding range lies within the Boreal Forest.



Members of this family are among the fastest fliers in the bird world. Swifts spend all of their daylight hours on the wing and come to rest only at evening. They feed exclusively on flying insects. They drink water and bathe by dipping into the water of a pond or river as they fly over it. Since they never perch, they gather twigs in flight, snapping them off with their bills as they pass. Sometimes a twig fails to break and the bird is tossed backward, only to return again. These swifts gather in communal roosts in air shafts or large chimneys, often whirling in a huge circle as they funnel down for the night.


4 3/4-5 1/2" (12-14 cm). Nearly uniform gray-brown, slightly darker above and on wings; in fresh plumage shows greenish gloss on wings and mantle. Light below, palest on upper breast and throat. Similar to Vaux's Swift but slightly larger, more uniform gray-brown, with darker throat and breast.


Loud, chattering twitters.


4 or 5 white eggs in a nest made of twigs cemented together with saliva and fastened to the inner wall of a chimney or, rarely, in a cave or hollow tree.


Breeds and roosts in chimneys; feeds entirely on the wing over forests, open country, and towns.


Breeds from southeastern Saskatchewan, southern Manitoba, central Ontario, southern Quebec, and Nova Scotia south to Gulf Coast states. Winters in tropics.