Chimney Swift - Chaetura pelagica
July 21, 2011
Hello: long time no postie?. It's been a full summer; strange too. I've had more changes in my life in the last 8 months than I've had in the previous 8 years, but that's subject matter for a different blog. Everything is fine, but my, how life can change on a dime. The positives are that my family and I are well, and my plate is full of great illustration jobs; work that I am truly excited about. More on that later.
Back to Tiny Aviary business:
The other day I found a dead chimney swift in our alley. It broke my heart, as swifts are some of my very favorite birds. I await their arrival in our skies every summer. When I finally hear their rapid clicking calls and see their little cigar shaped bodies fluttering up high like bats, I know that summer is undeniably here. If you have never seen one up close, they really are amazing. Swifts have small, short legs unfit for perching like other birds, but perfectly adapted to clinging vertically to walls. In addition, their tail feathers have rachides (the central shaft of a feather) like stiff bristles that extend beyond the length of the feather and aid in their vertical, wall clutching ways. Their eyes are enormous dark pools; almost insect like.
Before European settlers came to the North America, Chaetura pelagica were very numerous and roosted in the hollow cavities of large, ancient trees. We quickly pillaged our old growth forests, but almost as quickly swifts adapted to our urban structures. Instead of those old trees, they now roosted in our brick chimneys. And NOW we are tearing down, or sealing off our old chimneys. What's a good C. pelagica to do? The most recent issue of Audubon had a great feature about a lovely Texan couple that have been pioneers of Chimney Swift conservation. Paul and Georgian Kyle have figured out how to build swift friendly structures and have published their findings. Their very informative site is HERE.The site contains excellent information on Chimney swifts, as well as photos, videos, and pdfs on how to build one of their "swift towers". A great video of swifts gathering up at a chimney to roost for the night can be viewed HERE.
Do you have Chimney Swifts in your town this summer? Don't know? Go out and look, silly.
In the meantime, I'm putting up my little swift portrait in the STORE.