Plate 38: Chimney Swift

Chaetura pelagica

Nests & Eggs: Chimney Swift

High-pitched chatterers that prefer nesting in the eaves of buildings or your chimney.

Unlike swallows which bend their wings, this bird holds his wings straight, but the natural curve gives the appearance of a bow. The long wings make him appear larger than the small sparrow size which he attains. This sooty-black swift is the only member of his family which visits the eastern part of America and since he has adopted chimneys as his favorite nesting and roosting sites, he is not hard to find.

Few birds seem so perfectly fitted for living in the air and except when nesting or roosting, there is where he will be found. When flying, he looks almost like a bird without head or tail but if you will examine him closely you will find a short tail with spines which combined with his sharp claws, help anchor him to the flat inner surface of chimneys. Nests consist of small twigs which he snaps off the end of some dead limb while flying by, then glues to the chimney with saliva. This does not make an imposing structure, but is ample for safety of eggs and young.

The swift is a fast flier and combines long circular glides with quick wing beats and sharp turns, this erratic flight accompanied by a series of sharp, clicking notes which aids in identification. While drinking or bathing each bird glides down, each hitting the water in turn.

Introduction to Our Bird Friends, Vol. 1
  • Print out the notebooking pages provided below.
  • Read the Chimney Swift story in Bird Biographies out loud.
  • Have a younger student orally narrate what was read. He can then copy a few lines of his narration onto the notebooking pages.
  • Older students can read the text, Plate XXXVIII: Chimney Swift, and provide a written narration.
  • Sketch the bird. This encourages attention to detail, which will aid in identifying the bird later on. Another option is to use the printables provided below.
  • Sketch the nest of the bird, along with the eggs. Note where the nest is usually found.
  • Older students can include the taxonomy.
  • Learn more about the Chimney Swift at Cornell.
  • On one notebooking page note the facts:
    • Description.
    • Habitat.
    • Range.
    • Food.
    • Nest.
    • Eggs.
    • Call.
  • The chimney swift is covered in The Burgess Bird Book: CHAPTER XV. A Swallow and One Who Isn’t.
Additional Resources

30 Narration Ideas
At some point you might appreciate some variety.

The Bird Study sections of our free nature study series: Our Wonderful World:

Free Nature Studies: Our Wonderful World
Printables & Notebooking Pages

Chimney Swift Notebooking Pages
Free simple notebooking set.

Chimney Swift
Bird picture for notebook.

Fifty Favorite Birds Coloring Book

Fifty Favorite Birds Coloring Book
Dover Nature Coloring Book based on Fifty Birds of Town and City by Bob Hines. Includes the chimney swift.

Chimney Swift Range Map
For notebook from Cornell.

Bird Facts Notebooking Page
One option in a more graphic organizer style that is especially nice for noting the facts and range.

Enjoy the entire series:
Nest & Eggs ~ Intro & Free eBook
Free Bird Studies: Nests & Eggs ~ Complete Series

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