News Detail

Communications August 22, 2019

Chimney Swift Tower at KMP

Life would be difficult if humans couldn’t sit. Everything from driving to the way we work and eat would be affected.

For chimney swifts, perching is impossible. Nearly always in constant motion, the birds eat, drink, bathe, and mate in flight, only stopping to roost at night and nest. Contrary to popular belief, chimney swifts do have legs, but they are short — suitable only for clinging and incapable of supporting the swift.

Before humans came to North America, chimney swifts nested in tree hollows, but now almost exclusively nest in chimneys. In populated areas, these beneficial birds provide an important service. Despite their small size, chimney swifts can eat up to 12,000 mosquitoes, termites, flies, and other insects per day. Unfortunately, with limited nesting locations, the chimney swift population is in decline.

To help bring back chimney swifts, Boy Scout Corbin Doud volunteered to build a chimney swift tower at Kickerillo-Mischer Preserve in June. He consulted with Houston Audubon Society and their education director, Mary Anne Weber, to construct a tower that would accommodate the unique anatomy of the chimney swift. The tower is at the northeast corner of the main parking lot, near the fence line at the St. Luke’s Hospital retention pond. Look for these birds flitting through the preserve during the day. They resemble “flying cigars” with a short, curved body and a wingspan less than 13 inches.

Read more about chimney swifts in the Texas Park’s & Wildlife Department’s Chirrups in the Chimney or watch the video.

Become a swift steward by learning how to build them a nesting site with this basic tower design.