As the weather begins to cool off in the fall, many species of birds start the long migration process to their winter homes. However, sometimes along the way they stop and take up residence in the chimneys of unsuspecting homeowners.

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Birds in the chimney are dangerous for both the homeowners and the birds themselves. Migratory birds often carry diseases, exposing members of the household to different bacteria and illnesses. Likewise, birds can sometimes become trapped in the chimney structure and need the help of certified technicians to get back out. Chimney swifts pose are particular nuisance because they are protected, and therefore cannot be removed from their nests.

What are chimney swifts?

Chimney swifts are small, brown and grey birds that are found throughout North America. Known for its distinctive, loud chirps and calls, these migratory birds traditionally built their nests in dead or hollow trees. As more and more forests have been cleared to make way for cities and residential areas, the birds have adapted their habitats. Now, many chimney swifts build their nests on the inside of chimneys to mimic their former tree homes.

Although these birds may be beautiful to observe in the wild, few homeowners want them to build nests in their chimneys. First, their nests and nesting materials can cause damage to the chimney structure itself. In addition, chimney swifts and other migrating birds are known carriers of various diseases. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology  says, “Their ability to travel over long distances and through a variety of habitats exposes them to a wide range of microorganisms.”

Finally, chimney swifts and several other species of birds are protected animals under the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Under this law, destroying or removing nests that contain eggs or young birds is a federal crime punishable with a number of fines. If you think the birds in your chimney may be chimney swifts, it is best to call a professional to evaluate the problem.

How can I get the birds out?

If the birds in your chimney are identified as chimney swifts or another species protected under the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act, it is unlawful to remove or damage their nests in any way until the eggs have hatched and the young have left the nest. Luckily for homeowners, chimney swifts have a short incubation period of just 18 days, and most young leave the nest within 24 days of hatching.

Under no circumstances should a homeowner ever attempt to smoke out a nesting bird or any other animal in the chimney structure. Doing this is extremely dangerous for both the animals and homeowners. For animals, the smoke and gasses from a fire are toxic, and most succumb to the fumes or heat before they are able to exit the chimney structure. For homeowners, dry and brittle nesting materials can ignite, causing an unintentional fire hazard.

The experts at Lord’s Chimney can help homeowners identify the animals in their chimneys, remove any nests as necessary, and seal the chimney to prevent future animals from returning.