A nest, likely left over from 2014, from a chimney swift that visited CSIA's chimney swift tower.

A nest, likely left over from 2014, from a chimney swift that visited CSIA’s chimney swift tower. [Picture from video taken by Michael Segerstrom]

A bird species that CSIA Certified Chimney Sweeps are fond of, the aptly named Chimney Swift, considers chimneys to be the best shelter around. Swifts are now making their annual return north as spring begins to take hold throughout much of America, and they are attracted to your flue — particularly if you haven’t installed a chimney cap.

Unlike most birds, Chimney Swifts are unable to perch or stand upright and must have chimneys or similar structures in which to roost and raise their families. [Source: Texas Partners in Flight].

Chimney Swifts are protected by federal law under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. It is illegal to remove or disturb Chimney Swifts, their nests, eggs or young during the breeding season.

At the Chimney Safety Institute of America, we have a chimney swift tower set off from our 10,000-square-foot Technology Center in Plainfield, Indiana. We have so many chimneys on the main facility, we are attractive-looking spot — but our chimneys have caps, as we advise all homeowners to do, to avoid invasion of unwanted critters.

“Chimney swifts eat an awful lot of insects,” said Ashley Eldridge, CSIA Director of Education. “As we (homeowners) put rain caps on top of chimneys, they don’t have a natural habitat, so the solution  is to build swift towers so they have a place to nest and procreate.”

As Paul and Georgean Kyle have pointed out on their website, ChimneySwifts.org, swifts are extremely adaptable. This is why, when their native habitat of large hollow trees in the forests of North America were removed, they learned to nest and roost in chimneys and air shafts.

CSIA’s tower has no barrier to entry. We typically have one to two groups that will build nests, lay eggs and fledge. The nests they build jut out from the chimney walls and are held together by the bird’s glue-like saliva. [Source: CT Sweep]

We observed three nests in CSIA’s chimney swift tower in March 2015.

MORE: Video: Look inside CSIA’s chimney swift tower. What did we find?

Michael Segerstrom, a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep and CSIA instructor from Bridgewater, New Jersey, was in town to teach at the National Chimney Sweep Training School. There was evidence that wasps or hornets, or a stinging insect had built numerous nests in the chase. That’s what Segerstrom discovered.

“We wanted to remove these nests to keep the environment friendly for the chimney swifts,” Segerstrom said.

CSIA's Chimney Swift Tower, located east of our technology center in Plainfield, Indiana.

CSIA’s Chimney Swift Tower, located east of our technology center in Plainfield, Indiana.

Why Chimney Sweeps are sweet on swifts.

Swifts are a species facing a dramatic decline in numbers due to loss of habitat.


Homeowners who find the animals in their chimneys and aren’t interested in hosting the birds cannot remove the birds themselves. Only properly permitted and qualified professionals can relocate Swifts.

We encourage you to consult with your local CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep if you believe Swifts, or any animal for that matter, have taken up residence in your chimney. Once the proper professionals have relocated the animals, your certified sweep can install a chimney cap to help prevent future critter visits.