Chimney Swifts are dark gray-brown, swallow-like birds with long, slightly curved wings and stubby tails. They fly with stiff, rapid wing beats. Their call is a series of quick, chittering noises.
This small bird spends almost its entire life in flight, feeding and drinking on the wing. Chimney Swifts nest and root in chimneys and on vertical surfaces in dim, enclosed spaces. On migration in spring and fall, swifts can be seen at dusk swirling into large chimneys by the dozens or even thousands to roost for the night.
Long ago, Chimney Swifts used hollow trees as their “home.” As forests were cleared, the Swift’s natural habitat was lost, but over time, they adapted to using masonry chimneys instead of hollow trees. Unfortunately, this species is suffering sharp population declines.
The Swift’s toes are anisodactyl-three forward, one back-like those of most birds, but the Chimney Swift can swivel back its back to (its hallux) forward to help get a better grip.