Chimney Swift

We found these four guys in a barbecue chimney!

These sooty-gray birds, with their short, stiff tails and long bowed wings, have also been called the "flying cigar." (The upper "arm" is very short, and as most of the wing is thus made of the long stiff primary feathers, their wings bend much closer to the body than those of swallows.)

Terrific at flying, they arenít well adapted for walking, nor can they perch on branches or wires! All four toes point forward, allowing them to cling to vertical walls instead. As you can see in the photos, they also have very tiny beaks but huge mouths, great for trapping insects.

Their half-saucer nests are carefully constructed of a number of tiny twigs, glued together (and to the side of the wall) with saliva.

These four babies had outgrown their nest (it takes about 3 weeks), and were clinging to the wall of their chimney using their tiny four forward-pointing toes and their stiff tail feathers that end in sharp spine-like projections.