If you own a home with a fireplace, you’ve likely experienced birds nesting in your chimney. When birds build a nest or get trapped in a chimney, it can be difficult to get them out without causing stress to the homeowner and injury to the birds.
Birds usually fly into chimneys for two reasons. They are looking for a safe place to build a nest for their young, or they accidentally fly in and get trapped. Many birds find fireplace chimneys an appealing place to build a nest, because it’s protected from predators, bad weather, and high winds. Chimneys are dark spaces that provide privacy and cool temperatures for baby birds. Nests are usually built in the upper part of the chimney, but far enough from the opening to hide the nest. Birds that get trapped in chimneys often fall in or fly in by accident. Since the chimney is dark, birds get confused about which way is up or down if they can’t see the light. Not knowing which way to fly, they often get distressed and injured by flying into chimney walls. Many birds have a difficult time flying upwards, especially large birds and pigeons who are heavy.
In northeastern areas of the country, Chimney Swifts commonly invade chimneys in homes and commercial buildings during the Spring. Chimney Swifts are tiny little birds that are often mistaken for small bats. They migrate from South America in early Spring to escape the hot summers and raise their young in cooler temperatures. They find safe nesting areas for Summer and Fall, then leave in early November before winter weather arrives. Chimney Swifts, commonly seen in Massachusetts, invade thousands of chimneys throughout the state each year. If you had a nest in your chimney last year, you can expect them to return to your home this year. Chimney Swifts are migratory birds that return to the same nesting places year after year.
To protect your home, you should have a professional chimney inspection each year. It’s important to check for birds’ nests, structural cracks, and damages that may require chimney relining before it’s time light the fireplace.