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Flowing and graceful, the Chimney Swift is as the name implies, one of the speed champions of the bird kingdom. Although it is similar in habit and appearance, the Chimney Swift is not related to the swallow. It is instead related to the ming bird, which is the only bird of its size who can fly at a faster speed than the Chimney Swift. These birds are almost all black in color and about seven inches long. They have very long wings and a stub tail which produce a kind of rocking flight. Their bodies are usually describes as cigar shaped and the squared off tail will have projecting quills. The body construction of the Chimney Swift is totally adapted to its almost entirely aerial existence. Rumors claim that this bird is able to sleep aloft at considerable heights but this has not been verified. One of the most thrilling sights you can see is a flock of Chimney Swifts soaring, gliding, spiraling high in the air and diving to catch insects on a warm summers evening.
Chimney Swifts nest mostly in chimneys and barns. Their nest are a flimsy affair, made of scraps of straw and feathers, cemented with saliva and affixed to a suitable vertical surface. Chimney Swifts nest in large colonies, laying two or three eggs that are dull white and elongated in shape. Their young may be confined to their nest for up to six weeks. Chimney Swifts are quick learners and when they do leave the nest they are soon able to join the adult birds as they flock together, screaming shrilly in preparation for the long migration in front of them. They usually leave in August flying as far as South Africa and other warmer climates.
Chimney Swifts are migratory birds and can be seen flying over towns or sweeping across the sky looking for insects. Their call is a chittering sound and is only heard when they are in flight. Most Chimney Swifts tend to be summer visitors. Others of the species include the White throated Swift which has a pied plumage and forked tail.