How Can I Help?
Educate your friends and neighbors about Chimney Swifts.
Help keep Chimney Swifts common in Maryland by first letting people know that swifts are here and how they can be helped. Chimney Swifts are amazingly unique and fascinating birds that eat insects (a lot of them)!
Provide and maintain safe nesting and roosting sites:
If you have a masonry or clay flue-tile chimney, keep the top open and the damper closed from April through October to provide a nest site for these insect-eaters. Metal chimneys should be permanently capped to prevent birds and other wildlife from being trapped.
If you have your chimney cleaned, do it from November to March before the Chimney Swifts return from their winter home in South America.
Investigate an alternative venting system if you are converting a furnace or hot water heater to gas, leaving the chimney unlined and uncapped for the swifts.
Work with local conservation groups, building owners and managers, and civic groups to preserve existing Chimney Swift roosting or nesting chimneys in your community. When such chimneys cannot be preserved, construct faux chimneys,* ideally immediately adjacent to “lost” chimneys (those being removed entirely or those that need to be capped).
* a faux chimney is a fake chimney that is enclosed by or attached to a building, but has never been a functional chimney (i.e., used as part of a building heating system).
Identify chimneys where Chimney Swifts are nesting:
If you notice swifts entering and leaving a masonry chimney at 30 to 60 minute intervals, they may be building a nest (during May and June) or feeding their young (June through August). The future of Chimney Swifts depends on keeping these chimneys available for nesting swifts. If you observe nesting behavior, talking with a homeowner may help reassure them about concerns.
Report sightings of Chimney Swift roosts:
At dusk, watch for swifts circling and then entering a chimney. Report data electronically on eBird. Go to the eBird Quick Start Guide. When prompted for location, map your site to an exact address or point. Include, in the “Chimney Swift” comments section, general weather conditions, time when the first and last swifts entered the roost, and the type of building – residence, school, church, business, etc.
Chimney Swift towers:
For information and suggested best practices for constructing Chimney Swift towers in Maryland, please go to our Chimney Swift Towers page.