Sunday, July 8, 2012


With Worldwide and the Gs due back this afternoon, I did something that I have dreaded doing all week. At times there has been a staccato series of chirps emanating from the fireplace. At first I thought it was a mouse, or perhaps a bird had gotten down the chimney, an occurrence which had bedeviled Worldwide awhile ago.

The morning after I first heard the noises, I carefully opened the fireplace doors. I saw nothing, and confirmed that the flue was closed, eliminating the bird in the house problem; so, like a responsible homeowner, I forgot about it. But at various times throughout the week, I could hear the chirps, so I knew there was something in the chimney, and that I couldn’t tell Worldwide or the Gs that I hadn’t noticed it all week, which is what 12 year-old me would have done.

So yesterday, I gave myself up to the Internet. Try Googling “chirping in my chimmey” to stoke your imagination. Cicadas? Raccoons? Mice? Bats?

But the most likely culprit was the chimney swift, a bird described thusly by Wikipedia:
In flight, this bird looks like a flying cigar with long slender curved wings. The plumage is a sooty grey-brown; the throat, breast, underwings and rump are paler. ...The breeding season of Chimney Swifts is from May through July. Their breeding habitat is near towns and cities across eastern North America. Originally, these birds nested in large hollow trees, but now they mainly nest in man-made structures such as large open chimneys. The nest is made of twigs glued together with saliva and placed in a shaded location. They will lay three to seven white eggs, which the female will cover at night. The incubation period is 19-20 days, and the fledglings leave the nest after a month. Chimney swifts can nest more than once in a season.
My Peterson’s guide concurred, describing the sound as “Loud, rapid, ticking or chippering notes.”

This morning, I went up to the roof to investigate. I confirmed that we did not have a chimney screen, which is the recommended defense against the birds--who are reported to return to favourite nesting spots after their winter in Peru--but I couldn’t see anything down the chimney.

So I sat and watched for a few minutes. Sure enough, two creatures flew into the chimney, a couple of minutes apart, followed by a burst of chirps. They looked a lot like flying cigars. Case closed, in my view. I can’t say with 100% certainty that they weren’t bats, but I’m confident enough.

But what to do now? My decision is to live with the birds, savouring the chirps as the celebration of the death of the many insects that make up the birds’ diet; and to install a chimney cap in the Fall, after the visitors have flown the nest for warmer climes. So no action immediately required, which is pretty much how I roll.

No comments:

Post a Comment