Bedford Ramblings
Steve Mills

Ready to extend the humming bird welcome mat?

Posted Monday, February 19, 2018, at 9:10 AM
View 7 comments
Note: The nature of the Internet makes it impractical for our staff to review every comment. Please note that those who post comments on this website may do so using a screen name, which may or may not reflect a website user's actual name. Readers should be careful not to assign comments to real people who may have names similar to screen names. Refrain from obscenity in your comments, and to keep discussions civil, don't say anything in a way your grandmother would be ashamed to read.
  • Thanks, Steve. It is time to prepare for spring!

    Hummingbird feeders waiting, and a nest box for the Carolina Wrens (last year we had 4 broods on the back porch, a personal best). You don't need much (except an absence of cats!) An empty 12 pack box with one end cut off, placed on a shelf 4-6 feet off the floor, and the hard working wrens will bring their show right to your back porch... 2-3 days for building a nest, then they will lay one egg a day (most days) until they are done (anywhere from 3-5 eggs) then the mother sets for 12-13 days before the eggs hatch, it only takes another 12-13 days for the babies to go from smaller than a jellybean to flying out of the nest. During that time the parents work continuously from dawn to dusk bringing in bugs and caterpillars.... as soon as one brood flies, you simply toss the old nesting box (they will not re-use it) and set out another. It is also time to stop building fires in the fireplace, and turn the chimney over to the swifts. Just close the flue. If you are one of those people who put screens over your chimney, have a heart and take it down. Swifts are prodigious consumers of mosquitoes and other pest insects... and their aerobatics are really remarkable to watch. There is something about seeing them leaving your chimney to head to work at dawn, and their spectacular flying displays when they return at the end of the day that makes you feel special to be their host.

    -- Posted by lazarus on Mon, Feb 19, 2018, at 8:54 PM
  • I have heard about the Carolina Wren but never knew their “song” until your comment here made me search for a picture. I KNOW THAT SONG!

    I must have them around but may have always thought they were sparrows coming out of the shed as I approach. Yes, our cats seem to discourage them.

    When do the swifts leave their nest so the chimney can be cleaned for the heating season? Do they damage the inner wall any?

    I am for anything that eats mosquitos. We have caves for our bats but can’t say we have been hospitable to swifts.

    -- Posted by stevemills on Tue, Feb 20, 2018, at 7:11 AM
  • The swifts do not do any damage. Their nests are just tiny "shelves"of small twigs glued together with saliva. They arrive in late March or early April, nest from May to August, and are gone by the end of October. You don't have to worry about them hanging around into fire building weather, as they leave at the first cold snap. Only one pair will nest in a chimney, altho there might be others staying in the same place.

    They are interesting birds. They spend the winters in the Amazon Basin. Unable to "perch" they fly all day long, and cling to the sides of the chimney overnight. The nests are only used until the eggs hatch, and the babies then cling to the sides of the chimney. Should one fall down into your fireplace, all you have to do is put it above the flue, and it can climb back up. I generally leave the last ashes in the fireplace, and that will catch the eggshells and the tiny amount of poop. Roosting swifts do not leave the smelly mess you see under most bird roosts. I have read that you need to have the nests removed before building fires (and I am sure they are flammable (altho not very big). However, ours always fall down on their own before the fire season begins.

    The one undeniable swift issue is that every so many years one will fall down the fireplace and come out into the house. I suppose that could be avoided by closing the flue. They neither bite nor scratch, but it can be a comical exercise to steer a panicked swift out an open door or window, or to catch it and put it out.

    I really do not understand why people put screens over their chimneys to keep swifts out. I suppose they must like mosquitoes.

    -- Posted by lazarus on Thu, Feb 22, 2018, at 12:36 AM
  • Wow! They do sound interesting! Cannot perch? Crawl up the side?

    They sound like bats. Maybe it has something to do with loving mosquitoes? 😆

    Think Inwill read more. Thanks.

    -- Posted by stevemills on Thu, Feb 22, 2018, at 7:08 AM
  • I was curious about a comment regarding a Chimney Swift tower so did a Google search and was amazed at the number of towers built, their construction and costs. It can get much pricier than opening your chimney.

    I would have to close the flu since it would not be healthy for one to drop down. Our cats can get in there from some air vents designed to recycle air. I am still amazed that they have to cling to the sides and found no real statement on why they developed that way.

    Any idea Lazarus?

    -- Posted by stevemills on Thu, Feb 22, 2018, at 5:38 PM
  • swifts originally nested in the numerous huge hollow trees in the eastern north american forests. I reckon they had no need to perch outside, but had to be climbers and clingers... I find it amazing that the tiny babies can climb up a chimney. Apparently chimneys are superior sites to hollow trees, because swifts seldom nest in hollow trees any more.

    -- Posted by lazarus on Fri, Feb 23, 2018, at 2:19 PM
  • Wow! They do sound interesting! Cannot perch? Crawl up the side?

    They sound like bats. Maybe it has something to do with loving mosquitoes? 😆

    Think Inwill read more. Thanks.

    -- Posted by stevemills on Sat, Feb 24, 2018, at 1:57 PM
Respond to this blog

Posting a comment requires free registration: