Amaze-wing Facts About The Chimney Swift For Kids

Chimney Swift facts about a grayish small bird with big eyes, which flies high.

The Chimney Swift (Chaetura pelagica) is an aerial bird. It is native to Central Alberta, Newfoundland, South Florida, Eastern Texas, and the Gulf States. It migrates in winters to the headwaters of the Amazon in Western Brazil and Eastern Peru in South America. Studies indicate these birds being vagrant can be seen in Anguilla, Barbados, Jamaica, Portugal, the United Kingdom, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The biological name of this bird is Chaetura pelagica. The Chimney Swift's name refers to its preferred nesting site and its swift flight. These birds cling to a vertical surface and cannot perch upright on hollow trees like other birds. They fly throughout the day and rest during the nights. They are gregarious species that hunt in groups, migrate in flocks, and roost in high concentrations. These Swifts are monogamous, which means once the breeding pair is established, these swifts usually do not change their mating partner. With the introduction of chimneys to North America by the European settlers, these birds' populations have increased drastically as chimneys are favorable for nesting.

If this article interests you, check out our articles on birds of paradise and barn owl.

Chimney Swift

Fact File

What do they prey on?

Bees, flies, wasps, ants, aphids, flying insects

What do they eat?


Average litter size?

4-5 eggs

How much do they weigh?

0.6-1.1 oz (17-30 g)

How long are they?

4.7-5.9 in (12-15 cm)

How tall are they?


What do they look like?

Dark grayish, brownish gray

Skin Type


What are their main threats?

Hawks, falcons, raptors, kites, owls, snakes

What is their conservation status?


Where you'll find them

Savanna, wooden slopes, humid forests


Eastern Half of United States, Southern Canada





Scientific Name

Chaetura pelagica





Chimney Swift Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Chimney Swift?

The Chimney Swift Chaetura pelagica is a bird.

What class of animal does a Chimney Swift belong to?

The Chimney Swift is an Ave, and the species belongs to the Aves class.

How many Chimney Swifts are there in the world?

The population of these Swifts is recorded to be around 7,700,000 adult individuals.

Where does a Chimney Swift live?

The Chimney Swift adapts to tropical, terrestrial, and temperate habitats. They live in forests, rainforests, scrub forests, wetlands, suburban lands, agricultural areas, and mountains. They are spread across the Eastern half of the United States and Canada's Southern territory. During the winters, Swifts migrate to South America and are rarely spotted in Western parts of the United States during summer.

What is a Chimney Swift's habitat?

The Chimney Swift species nesting and roosting habitats are invariable. They showcase constancy in the nest and roost sites. The nesting and roosting habitats are fundamental to these Swifts as they depend on them for breeding and roosting. While nesting, the habitat occupied by pairs or pairs is later transformed as roosting habitat for a high concentration of individuals.

In natural habitats of hollow trees, the critical root zone encircling the nesting and roosting tree cavity is typically 36 times the diameter at the tree's breast height. The area 90 m within this nest or roost site will protect the critical root zone.

Chimney Swifts groups are densely populated in urban habitats with large concentrations of chimneys. They live in chimneys as their construction allows the birds to build nests and roost in vertical forage as they cannot perch upright on hollow trees like other birds.

Who do Chimney Swifts live with?

These Chimney Swifts are clubbable species, and they flock in groups of 6-20 and roost in the strength of hundreds and thousands.

How long does a Chimney Swift live?

The average lifespan of Chimney Swifts is 4.6 years. The highest recorded age is 14 years.

How do they reproduce?

The Chimney Swifts breeding season usually occurs between May and July. These birds set their nests in the dark in chimneys and sometimes in hollow trees abandoned by woodpeckers during breeding season. Their nest is in a half-cup or bracket shape. The nest's sticks are glued together with the help of the superabundant saliva they emit out, which also holds the nest to the vertical surfaces intact. After mating, the female swift litters four to five glossy eggs in the nest. The breeding pair protects the nesting eggs together during the incubation period. The eggs hatch into chicks post 19 days of nesting period, and they are altricial. Hence they continue to be under the protection of parent Swifts for the next 30 days post which they are capable of taking their first flight.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of these swifts was updated twice by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. It was changed from Least Concern to Near Threatened in 2010 and was further notified as Vulnerable in the year 2018. The exact reasons for the abrupt decline in this Swift family of birds' numbers are unfamiliar. One of the reasons for the decrease is relatively attributed to the decrease of insect population due to pesticides. When the temperatures drop, these birds prey on insects present on the road, and there is a fair chance of the bird being hit by vehicles. The Chimney Swifts cannot survive storms or hurricanes that come up against them during migration. In North America, as per the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, humans cannot remove Chimney Swift's nest without a federally issued permit. The Chimney Swifts are listed as Threatened by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.

Chimney Swift Fun Facts

What do Chimney Swifts look like?

The Chimney Swift is a dark sooty bird. Their plumage is dark sooty olive above and grayish brown below. Their upper tail is covered with a set of feathers called coverts that help smooth airflow in the wings and tail. They have a slightly paler ramp and significantly paler throat. Its feet are short, but its short toes are tipped with sharp curved claws. Swifts have large, deep-set eyes protected with small patches of coarse black bristly feathers. Their iris is dark brown, and the beak is black. Its tail is short and square-shaped.

Fun Facts about Chimney Swift, an aerial bird that builds the nest in chimneys.

How cute are they?

The Chimney Swift is cute in their typical vertical forage style, taking speedy flights, chirpy sounds, and their small-sized plumage body.

How do they communicate?

The Chimney Swift makes twittering calls. They communicate through a series of hard high pitched chirps. During mating, they exhibit flight behavior and drift in the air together with wings forming a sharp 'V.' When disturbed while resting, the Chimney Swift claps its wings loudly once or twice against its body. They do so even when they fall several feet to lower locations. This act can produce large thundering sounds when large roosts of birds are disturbed. Swifts try to scare away potential predators by exhibiting this behavior.

How big is a Chimney Swift?

The Chimney Swift is a medium-sized Swift, its length and wingspan are almost two-thirds to that of a normal swift.

How fast can a Chimney Swift fly?

The Chimney Swifts are predominantly aerialists and are primarily seen in flight when they are not roosting. Swifts fly show rapid inconsistent wing beats while scattering with short quick glides. Researches indicate that these Chaetura Swifts can fly more than a mile above the earth's surface. Like any other swift, the speed of their flight is 69 mph.

How much does a Chimney Swift weigh?

The weight of the Chimney Swift ranges from 0.6-1.1 oz.

What are their male and female names of the species?

The male and female birds of the swift species are called male Chimney Swift and female Chimney Swift.

What would you call a baby Chimney Swift?

The baby Chimney Swift is called a chick.

What do they eat?

The Chimney Swifts are primarily insectivores. As aerial birds, they prey on flying insects. They search for food by hanging on to the tree branches and catch flying insects like whiteflies, flies, stoneflies, mayflies. They also feed on spiders, ants, bees, aphids. They are capable of eating about 12,000 small insects each day.

Are they dangerous?

Chimney swifts have been described as peaceful birds and are compared to doves. There is no established evidence that these species are dangerous to humans or cause any damage.

Would they make a good pet?

Though these birds of Swift species are not dangerous to human beings, these birds panic when caged on closed surfaces, and they cannot live alone. They love to fly most of the time other than resting and nesting. Hence it is not advisable to have them as pets.

Did you know...

The Chimney Swifts are called Flying Cigars because of their body shape. Its flight profile is referred to as a 'Cigar with Wings.'

Their slender curved long wings extend beyond its tail when folded. It has pointed wingtips which help in reducing air turbulence while in flight. It drinks with its wings gliding through the surface of the water with its beak. It also bathes on the wing, moving above the water body's surface, drifting its breast slightly into the water. The humerus is relatively short while the outer bones are significantly elongated. This combination allows the bird to flap very rapidly.

The Vaux's Swift and Chapman's Swift are similar species of genus Chaetura.

All the 10 tail feathers of this bird have shafts that extend beyond the vanes with sharp, stiff points at the end that help the bird to hover itself against vertical surfaces.

Migration of these swift species begins in August and continues till October.

The Chimney Swift takes 30 days of time to hatch or incubate before leaving a chimney.

How to build a Chimney Swift tower?

Chimney Swift towers are the best techniques adapted to attract and preserve these birds' populations. The tower acts as an artificial environment to roost or nest. The Audubon bird-friendly communities play a pivotal role in protecting the Chimney Swifts. School campuses, church grounds, and public parks are ideal sites to establish these towers. Kiosk-style towers that are ideally 12 ft tall and free-standing are recommended for Chimney swifts. It is advisable to construct these towers before installation. Once the tower is assembled, it is transported to the destination site for installation.

What to feed a rescued baby bird Chimney Swift?

The baby Chimney Swifts can be fed with crickets, flies, and dried insect food that is properly soaked.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds including secretary bird, or great green macaw.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our chimney swift coloring pages.



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