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Chimney Swift

Chaetura pelagica

COSEWIC Status: Threatened

COSSARO Status: Threatened

Credit: Bruno Kern


  • Dark, cigar shaped bird with long narrow wings and no noticeable tail.
  • Sexes look identical.
  • Often mistaken for swallows but they are not related.

Habits and Reproduction

  • Chatters constantly as it flies and spends most of its waking hours on the air.
  • Able to echolocate.
  • Migrant returning mid May from Peru.
  • May live ~14 yrs.
  • Rest in chimneys during migration.
  • Day shift feeder that screens the air for insects.
  • Nest in dark sheltered places, such as in chimneys (uncapped, unlined chimneys generally build pre 1960), barns, silos and large hollow trees
  • Nests tend to be within 1 km of water
  • Half saucer like nest built from twigs and “glued” with salvia
  • Lays 4-5 eggs
  • Monogamous
  • ~7,500 of breeding age in Ontario


  • With the removal of old growth forests, for the past 150 years, swifts have depended on large chimneys for nesting sites. With fewer chimneys of that style, old barns and silos, they have lost their preferred nesting sites.
  • Pesticide use particularly in wintering grounds.
  • Susceptible to severe weather at migration and breeding time

Conservation Actions

  • If you think your chimney has nesting swifts please don’t clean it during breeding season (May-September).
  • Consider leaving your chimney unlined and directly vent your furnace.
  • For more information in the Parry Sound area, contact:

Range Map

For more information about the Chimney Swift in the Georgian Bay area, contact:

Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry
SAR Biologist
7 Bay Street
Parry Sound, Ontario
P2A 1S4
Phone: 705-746-4201

Thanks to the official sponsors of the Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas (Bird Studies Canada, Canadian Wildlife Service, Federation of Ontario Naturalists, Ontario Field Ornithologists, and Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources) for supplying Atlas data, and to the thousands of volunteer participants who gathered data for the project.

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