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Chimney Swift (NY) — 2009

Chimney Swift

Location: Glenham, NY

Hosted by:

Nest Build. Date: May 25, 2009

First Egg Date: Jun 28, 2009

Clutch Size: 3

Incubation: Jul 02, 2009

Hatch Date: Jul 19, 2009

Number of Nestlings: 3

Fledge Date: Aug 19, 2009

Number of Fledglings: 3

Note: 09/09 - This nest attempt is complete and the swifts have begun their migration!

Photo Highlights (53)

    Will they nest here this year?

    Apr 28, 2009 -
    Chimney Swifts build a nest of loosely woven twigs cemented together with the bird's glue-like saliva. View video clip of swifts entering the tower yesterday.

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    Swift Morning

    Apr 29, 2009 -
    The swifts were visiting the tower in the morning and later in the evening.


    May 18, 2009 -
    The swifts continue to roost overnight in the tower. Hopefully, they will start nesting soon.

    Checking Out the Camera

    May 20, 2009 -
    This swift seems to be checking out the camera. Swifts can not perch like other birds. They must cling to the sides of a vertical surfaces.

    Birds of a Feather

    May 22, 2009 -
    Chimney swifts are gregarious and large numbers may roost together in the nonbreeding season. But even in the breeding season, though there is one nesting pair per "chimney", they may allow other birds to roost with them.

    Nest Building

    May 26, 2009 -
    The chimney swifts have begun nest building. So far, they have stuck a few twigs to the side of the tower.

    Waiting for the Nest

    May 27, 2009 -
    The swifts are still slowly working on the nest. In New York, first egg date for chimney swifts can range for June 8th to July 1st. So, there still may be a while.

    Moving Cams

    May 29, 2009 -
    We're still waiting on the swifts to choose a final place to start building. In the meantime, the cam host will may keep moving the cam to catch the action.

    Nest Building

    Jun 01, 2009 -
    It looks like the swifts have finally decided on a place to put their nest. They are gradually adding more and more sticks to the chimney.

    Nest Buildling

    Jun 03, 2009 -
    The nest building process for Chimney Swifts takes 18 days on average. However, it has been known to take as long as 30 days.

    Still Deciding

    Jun 05, 2009 -
    The cam host is still changing up the camera angle. The swifts have yet to choose a spot to place their nest and are adding sticks all over the chimney.


    Jun 08, 2009 -
    One friendly chimney swift came up to the camera this morning. They are still placing sticks all around the chimney.

    Where to Build?

    Jun 10, 2009 -
    The cam host has pointed out all of the brown spots on the lower portion of the tower. These are all sticks placed by the swifts in their attempt to find a nesting location.


    Jun 12, 2009 -
    When Europeans first started settling in North America, chimney swift populations started to rise and soar because of all the places to nest. However, in the last 20 years, populations have begun to decline as new chimneys are less suitable for nesting.


    Jun 15, 2009 -
    It seems that the chimney swifts have finally decided on a location for the nest. They are quickly building more and more.

    Precarious Position

    Jun 17, 2009 -
    The adult seems to be in a precarious position while working on the nest. The female will begin to lay eggs even before the nest is finished, so eggs could come any day now.

    Nest Building

    Jun 19, 2009 -
    The chimney swift have a unique way of building nests. While flying, they break twigs off branches with their feet. The birds then carry the twigs back to the nest, in their beaks, where they stick them together with their saliva.

    Building Continues

    Jun 22, 2009 -
    Despite viewers' hopes for eggs this morning, there are none. Instead, the swifts continue to work on the nest.

    Still Buildling!

    Jun 24, 2009 -
    The swifts are still at it. The nest is made out of whatever they have locally available. In NY, most of these twigs are from apple, maple, locust or basswood trees.

    Will They or Wont They?

    Jun 26, 2009 -
    The chimney swifts still haven't laid an egg. However, one of the birds, probably the female, spent most of the morning on the nest.


    Jun 29, 2009 -
    The chimney swifts finally laid their first egg yesterday. An average clutch size is 3 to 5 eggs, so perhaps there will be a second later today.

    On the Edge

    Jul 01, 2009 -
    There are now two eggs in the nest. Though the nest looks precarious, the adults will continue to build throughout egg laying.

    Three Eggs!

    Jul 02, 2009 -
    The cam host sent us this image. There are now three eggs in the nest.

    Building Continues

    Jul 04, 2009 -
    The female has started to incubate the eggs. However, that doesn't mean that the building of the nest will stop. Here, the male is still bringing in nesting material.


    Jul 06, 2009 -
    Chimney swifts, as stated before, are unable to perch like other birds. This could be why the female seems to have a hard time adjusting positions while incubating.

    Both Adults

    Jul 08, 2009 -
    In chimney swifts, both adults will incubate the eggs. The eggs are very rarely left unattended. Here, it seems like both adults want to incubate at once.

    Estimated Hatch Day

    Jul 10, 2009 -
    Chimney Swift incubation lasts about 19 days. That would place hatch date around July 21st. However, this may be extended a couple of days with the cool, wet weather NY has been having.

    Large Flocks

    Jul 13, 2009 -
    Migration can be the best time to spot Chimney Swifts. Flocks with thousands of birds may circle over roosting sites.

    The Eggs

    Jul 15, 2009 -
    There finally is a view of the eggs. Unlike other birds, which may leave the eggs unattended for short period of time, Chimney Swifts rarely leave their eggs unattended. Typically one of the adults is almost always incubating.

    Cigar Bird

    Jul 17, 2009 -
    The Chimney Swifts dark coloring and distinct body shape have earned it the nick-name "a cigar on wings."

    Hatching Day, Image Two

    Jul 19, 2009 -
    This second image, sent in yesterday by the cam host, shows the first of the three young hatching.

    Hatching Day!

    Jul 19, 2009 -
    All three of the eggs hatched successfully yesterday. This image is the first of two sent in by the cam host.

    Growth of the Chicks

    Jul 22, 2009 -
    In their first 10 to 12 days of life, the chicks will seem to grow exponentially. They will go from weighing about 1.5 - 2 grams all the way up to 15 - 22 grams!

    Brooding Behavior

    Jul 24, 2009 -
    The chicks are now about 6 days old, at which point the adults stop brooding them during the day. However, both adults will continue to brood together at night until the chicks are too big, about 12 days old.

    Pin Feathers

    Jul 27, 2009 -
    At 8 days old, the feathers of the chicks are starting to break through the skin. They are now in a phase called pin feathered.

    Feather Growth

    Jul 29, 2009 -
    The Chimney Swift chicks are now 10 days old! At this point, most of the feather sheaths have broken through the skin, but only some of the actual feathers are starting to emerge. The rest should start emerging in the next few of days.

    Growing Up

    Jul 31, 2009 -
    Chimney swift young should leave the nest and begin perching on the wall at around 19 days old. However, they may not be ready to fly until they are about 28 to 30 days old!

    Feeding Intervals

    Aug 03, 2009 -
    Over the course of their growth, the parents actually feed the chicks less. At this point, the chicks may be fed once every 45 minutes to 2 hours!

    A Family That Sleeps Together....

    Aug 05, 2009 -
    Though the chicks are almost full grown, one of the adults still roosts with them at night. That makes for some tight spacing on the nest.

    Living off the wall

    Aug 07, 2009 -
    Regular feedings continue even though at 20 days old, these chick are nearly as large as their parents.

    Spreading their wings

    Aug 08, 2009 -
    All three young are now capable of very short flights within the tower.

    Practice makes perfect

    Aug 11, 2009 -
    When not huddled together, the young swifts spend their day taking practice flights from one side of the tower to another. It won't be long before they leave the tower for good...


    Aug 13, 2009 -
    Viewers and the cam host reported that one of the six swifts in the tower was an unwanted intruder. The intruder was attacked by the host parents and eventually left.


    Aug 17, 2009 -
    At the end of the nesting season, lots of birds will congregate in a single chimney. They roost together in preparation for migration. There may be over 10,000 birds in a single roosting colony.

    Out and About

    Aug 18, 2009 -
    The chimney swift chicks are now exactly one month old. They have become independent and spend most of their mornings away from the chimney, though they still roost there at night with their family.

    Sleeping Tight

    Aug 21, 2009 -
    Though they were gone by early morning, at least two birds spent the night in the tower.

    More Than One Bird

    Aug 24, 2009 -
    Though there are multiple swifts in this tower, they may not all be from the same family. Many families allow other swifts to roost along with them throughout the season.

    On The Wing

    Aug 26, 2009 -
    Chimney Swifts are among the most aerial of landbirds. Their flight is so fast and erratic, it often gives the false appearance that the wings do not beat together.

    Life Span

    Aug 28, 2009 -
    Chimney Swifts are rather long lived song birds. They live, on average, 5 years. However, they have been known to live up to 15 years old!


    Aug 31, 2009 -
    Chimney swifts are migratory birds. In the next couple of week they will get ready for their fall trip to the upper Amazon basin of Peru, Ecuador, Chile, and Brazil.

    Only One

    Sep 02, 2009 -
    Last night, only one swift roosted in the tower. It is possible that all of the other swifts have gone to roost with a larger flock nearby.

    Empty Tower

    Sep 04, 2009 -
    For the first night in a long time, the tower stands empty. No swifts were roosting last night. We will keep the cam running for a little longer to see if they come back intermittently.


    Sep 08, 2009 -
    It appears that the swifts have definitely left for their wintering grounds. Their migration might be a slow leisurely one, taking up to a month. Though exact arrival dates of the swifts in South/Central America are poorly documented.

Video Highlights (2)

Jun 09, 2009 - Nest Placement
The chimney swifts are still trying to decide on a spot. The cam host sent us this video. The adult looks ready to place a stick with others, but decides to take it further up the chimney.

Open movie