May 5, 2011

Chimney swifts – the city sky chatters


by Diana Sudyka

Chimney swifts are appropriately named for both their heroic, breakneck, insect snatching flight and for their habit of nesting in chimneys. Swifts are built like a swallow but are in fact their own genus and are a pared down bird seemingly made of nothing more than two wings and cigar shaped body. Swifts have returned to New England from a winter spent in western South America and can be heard filling the skies above large urban downtowns to small town centers. Often overlooked, or in this case “underlooked”, swifts trace the sky on unseen coils of wire, picking insects out of the air with rolling, aerial acrobatics. The city dweller with eyes pressed down to sidewalks and iphones may live an entire life without ever noticing these birds above.

Listen for swifts as they chatter through the skies, amass around chimneys and come late spring watch fort the mating flight in which a pair of swifts glide in tandem on up held “V” shaped wings. 

2 comments:

Brian said...

I love hearing the chattering of these magnificent fliers.

Anne said...

We see them in downtown Westborough on summer evenings, not exactly an urban setting, and they are great fun to see.
Annie

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is an educator, bird watcher, and writer fascinated by the intersections of place, people, nature, and culture. He works for Mass Audubon and lives in the heart of Massachusetts. For questions or comments please contact: alexanderjosephdunn@gmail.com

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