Birds of Barrington, Birds of Barrington Illinois, Nature, Things to Do, Wildlife

Wendy Paulson’s Birds of Barrington | Chimney Swift

Wendy Paulson’s Birds of Barrington | Chimney Swift

Home Newsroom Wendy Paulson’s Birds of Barrington | Chimney Swift

Summer evening diners at one of the downtown Barrington restaurants with outdoor patios may note twitters in the sky above – not the twitter accounts regularly consulted on mobile devices, but those of charcoal-colored birds coursing rapidly overhead in the late afternoon and evening. The high-pitched chatter is fast-paced, as are the wingbeats of the birds, called chimney swifts (Chaetura pelagica).

The chimney swift is a species often overlooked, even by birdwatchers. It does not perch or forage on the ground, or even approach much to eye level. It is a bird of the skies. In fact the chimney swift eats, often sleeps, and even mates in the air. It is so sky-bound that it has almost no legs, just long toes that help it grip the inside walls of hollow trees, caves or, most commonly, chimneys, where it roosts and builds its nest.

Yet the species is a fixture of summer. My father used to pull up a lawn chair on summer evenings at the edge of his driveway and tell me, “I’m waiting for the best show in town to begin.” Soon a chimney swift would appear seemingly out of nowhere, twittering, beating its wings in rapid-fire motion, never stopping, streaking back and forth, up and down, joined by others of its kind. The sky became alive with chimney swifts and I loved sitting there with my dad watching them.

Later I learned the term “flying cigar” to describe the appearance of the chimney swift. It’s an apt term. The swift’s body is tubular – yes, cigar-shaped – with an arc of long wings that make it an aerial artist. It is the color of soot, certainly appropriate for a bird that attaches its nest most often to the inside of chimneys. The nest is made of twigs broken off with the birds’ toes and pasted with saliva to the inside walls in the shape of a shallow half cup. But with the use of chimneys diminishing, and with newer designs inhospitable to the clinging toes of chimney swifts, the population is declining.

In the Barrington area, as well as the rest of eastern North America, we must savor the chimney swifts’ flights and sounds in these remaining weeks of summer. Once the birds have nested and raised young, they will be heading south to the Amazon basin where, though above different terrestrial habitats, they still will be birds of the sky. Once they appear in the spring, usually in early May, they signal the return of all long-distance migrants. Isn’t it wonderful to know that the skies over Barrington – and chimneys in town – host visitors from the Amazon every summer?


About the Author

Wendy Paulson has lived in Barrington Hills since 1975, and has led bird walks in the area for many years. She re-established the Nature Lady program in the Barrington 220 school district and St. Anne’s in the late 70s, under the auspices of The Garden Club and Little Garden Club of Barrington. Wendy developed the education program for Citizens for Conservation, initiated and edited its newsletter, and has been an active volunteer with CFC for over 30 years.

Wendy Paulson
Wendy Paulson

During interludes in New York City and Washington, DC, Wendy taught classes about birds in the public schools and is helping to develop a similar program in Chicago public schools with Openlands. She is chairman of The Bobolink Foundation, serves on the board or advisory committee of multiple conservation and bird-related organizations, both domestic and international, and is former chairman of IL and NY chapters of The Nature Conservancy.

Wendy and her husband Hank have two grown children and are avid hikers, cyclists, and kayakers.

CLICK HERE to explore all of the local bird profiles Wendy has authored in our Birds of Barrington series at 365Barrington.com.

There are no comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Barrington
46°
broken clouds
humidity: 75%
wind: 5mph S
H 48 • L 43
53°
Thu
47°
Fri
42°
Sat
41°
Sun

Luby Group Listings

$565,000
3
BED
5
TOTAL BATHS
4,350
SQFT
126 Waterview Court Lake Barrington, IL 60010
Townhouse For Sale
- New

BEAUTIFULLY remodeled Augusta unit with the best golf course location in Lake Barrington Shores, enjoy open views of the 12th fairway and water views over large pond! This home has been tastefully updated with so much to mention. Let's start in the k

$474,000
4
BED
4
TOTAL BATHS
4,389
SQFT
7 Lakeside Lane North Barrington, IL 60010
Single Family Home For Sale
- Contingent

Terrific opportunity to own water front property in sought after Wynstone community, with over 4,300 square feet of living space including a full finished walk out lower level! This home features an open floor plan with volume ceilings, floor to ceil

$410,000
4
BED
3
TOTAL BATHS
2,550
SQFT
104 East Lake Shore Drive Tower Lakes, IL 60010
Single Family Home For Sale
- Active

WATERFRONT hillside ranch in sought after Tower Lakes Community, enjoy resort style living year round with 196' of lakefront! This fabulous 4 bedroom all brick home has been lovingly maintained, offering great space and a versatile floor plan. The ma

$675,000
5
BED
4
TOTAL BATHS
3,629
SQFT
1 Burning Oak Trail Barrington Hills, IL 60010
Single Family Home For Sale
- Active

Stunning home on 2.2 acre wooded lot with private pond and creek! Gleaming hardwood flooring throughout most of first floor. Gourmet kitchen with center island and adjacent hearth room with cozy fireplace are the hub of every day living. Great room f