I met up with Beth this past Wednesday to do some birding. She has been seeing Chimney Swifts flying over the old mill buildings across from where she works and some have been seen at her church circling the bell tower. I was anxious to see some for myself. Because of the loss of habitat the Swifts were becoming rare, they need tall stone or brick chimneys to nest in. And as old mill buildings are torn down for new developments the Chimney Swift population has declined.
First we drove to the church to see what we could see. The sky was overcast and grey which hopefully would make the silhouette of the Swifts stand out good. Beth explained how different the Swift was compared to the shape of the Swallow and she told me to listen for the high pitched chattering of the Swift as they flew high above. It is said that the Chimney Swift looks like a flying cigar, its body it long and rounded at both ends and dark against the sky. The Swift doesn't flap its wings like most other birds but glides barely moving its wings at all, it actually vibrates its wings in quick short movements. We walked around the church yard and sure enough Beth heard their chattering and pointed to the sky telling me " There they are!" They were so fast and so high I couldn't get a look at them with my binoculars, but I saw them! Their shape was very distinctive.
Next Beth took me to where she works to try and get me a better sighting of the Chimney Swifts. Her office building is along the old canal and across the street from the old mill buildings that had been turned into offices. We sat on the picnic table under some trees and enjoyed our lunch while watching the sky for flying cigars. Didn't take long and they showed up! First there were three, then two more, then another group all circling above the trees along the canal chattering. I ended up seeing about two dozen Chimney Swifts, yippee a life list bird for me! Thank you Beth.
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