If you have swifts in your chimney, congratulations! You are a “swift landlord.” Swifts will help keep insect numbers in check and eat up to half their weight in flying insects each day! The only requirement for you as a landlord is to provide them a clean, open chimney in which to roost and raise their young. Swifts return to the same chimney each year and they depend on us to provide their only option for nesting.
The most important requirement of a ‘swift landlord’ is to keep your chimney clean. Why? Because soot can build up and may prevent the swifts’ nest from adhering securely to the chimney wall. This may cause the nest to fall, leading to the death of the nestling swifts. The best time for chimneys to be cleaned in Wisconsin is in March or early April, after the winter and before the swifts return from South America. Tell your chimney sweep that you are aware of Chimney Swifts using the chimney.
If you have a masonry chimney, please consider keeping it uncapped from mid-April to mid-October, to encourage use by swifts. After the swifts have left on their migration south, the chimney can be either capped for the winter, or used for a working fireplace.