With their streamlined bodies and long, curved wings, Chimney Swifts were built for flying. In fact, they spend almost all their waking hours aloft, maneuvering nimbly through the sky chasing insects. They even bathe in flight, smacking the water with their bodies and shaking it off as they fly away. When they do come back to earth, it’s only to roost or nest, and unlike most birds, chimney swifts’ small feet are unable to perch on branches (their family name, Apodidae, means “footless”). Instead, they cling vertically to the walls of caves, hollow trees, and especially (true to their name) chimneys. As chimneys have fallen out of use due to central heating, Chimney Swift populations have dwindled. To combat this loss of habitat, many communities have installed nesting towers to provide shelter for swifts.
Travis Audubon’s Chaetura Canyon Sanctuary is renowned for its research and conservation of Chimney Swifts. You can see the Swifts and their nesting towers when you join us for a Morning Canyon Crawl or an evening Swift Watch this summer!