How I Lost 12.5 Pounds & Regained My Soul

Naked, as in truth, and uncensored, I share my daily quest to survive as a woman and artist, while dealing with the complications of a full life, meddling in politics, loving my children to excess, totally permanently married and on a never-ending diet. While my soul is in constant need of repair and redemption, I struggle to do the right thing. In the meantime, let's all double the love. (Love, not sex, you fool). All posts are copyrighted material.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Birds or bats in the chimney?

Good evening, my little spaghettios~

Yipes! I was sitting here listening to the chatter of the little birds who have inhabited my chimney, and I began to worry that one of them might not be able to fly straight up when the time came to vacate my premises. My husband thought they were barn swallows, as he'd seen them circling and then entering our chimney, but my daughter thought they were swifts.

Everybody here has seen them on television when they have filmed them as they start circling the old industrial chimneys in Portland. It is quite a show as they fly around the sky in flocks, chattering incessantly, but also swirling up and down and around like a glorious troupe of acrobats.

I must admit when they moved in a few weeks ago, we were none the wiser. Then they started to chirp and our new puggle began running into the living room every so often barking. This would stop the birds from chirping, and then our dog would return to the family room.

Candidly, I wondered if some large animal was in the yard and our dog was hearing more than just the usual coyotes stalking wild rabbits. Finally my husband followed her into the living room just in time to hear the chirping. At first we were concerned that it might be bats, as we do have them in the summer and they do seem to hang upside down in weird places.

Then he saw the parents swooping around and we were relieved to know it was 'just birds'. It was too late to have them removed for the party, and we wouldn't have wanted to do it anyway. I mean, kill baby birds? What kind of people do you think we are?

So tonight, alone for the first time in weeks, I am not yet lonely but certainly bored with my own companionship. So I googled 'birds nesting in chimney' and discovered the following:

Tips For Living With Swifts

If you discover yourself playing host to a family of chimney swifts, some simple tips will help make the experience positive.

* When you begin hearing chimney swifts chirping loudly, they are only about two weeks from leaving their nest. Consider their racket a small price for the insect control they provide.
* Close your fireplace damper or seal the hole where the stovepipe enters the chimney. This will keep the birds from getting into your fireplace or stove, where they may die.
* If you find a swift in your fireplace, catch the bird and gently place it on the chimney wall above the damper. Close the damper to prevent the young birds from re-entering the fireplace.
* To dampen the sound of the young swifts, pack foam insulation below the damper or the hole for the stove pipe. Young swifts are usually only heard during the last two weeks before they fly. It won't last long, and the benefits the birds provide may even help you enjoy the chatter in your chimney.
* If you find an inhabited nest during a scheduled chimney cleaning, reschedule the cleaning for sometime between mid-September and mid-March.
* If chimney swifts are using your chimney and you do not want them there, wait for them to complete their nesting season and install a chimney cap during the winter-before April- to prevent future nests. It is a federal offense to destroy the nest, eggs or young of chimney swifts.

If you would like to have chimney swifts in your chimney, attracting them may be as simple as removing the cap from your chimney.

If your chimney has a metal liner, leave it capped. Swifts cannot attach nests to the metal, and a chimney with such equipment may trap birds. If you wish to use the cap during the winter when you have a fire, simply remove the cap in March before the swifts return. This also is a good time to clean your chimney to remove the accumulated creosote. Cleaning the chimney also will provide a better surface on which swifts can attach their nest.

Replace the chimney cap in October, after the swifts have departed. Properly cleaning your chimney before swifts arrive or after they migrate will ensure its usefulness to both you and your swift friends. Because swifts migrate before cold weather arrives, they will be gone before you need your chimney for more conventional uses.

If your house lacks a fireplace or chimney, you still can attract swifts, but it will take a little more work. Chimney swifts are readily attracted to wooden towers with the proper dimensions.

Basically, you will be constructing a shaft similar to a chimney, with roughened wood on the inside to allow swifts to cling to its surface. The inside opening must be at least 11 inches across. The shaft should be at least eight feet high and closed at the bottom. Towers less than 12 feet high should have a sunshade on the south edge to protect the interior from direct sunlight.

For stabilization, you can attach the swift tower to the side of your house or some other building. The tower top should rise at least four feet above the roof. More elaborate designs can be self-supported on a concrete foundation.

For more information on building the chimney swift towers invented by the Driftwood Wildlife Association, visit


Now I must admit that this morning, around 4:10 a.m. when I got up temporarily, I heard those darn little birds chattering away for Momma and Poppa. Of course, as the food balls they form in a pocket of their throats and regurgitate for their babies a few times a day have up to 600 insects in them, one wonders what the chatter is all about. On the other hand, as we have an organically maintained garden, we have lots of bugs and I am thrilled to have natural predators keeping the mosquitoes down.

It is illegal to bother a Swift nest or hurt or kill a Swift, as these birds are protected by federal law. It might also be of interest to note that these birds used to live in the dead swag left in the forests. With all the logging done across the country, the birds adapted to living in chimneys. As the fireplaces were not ignited during the summer mating and nesting season, it worked out perfectly.

During the fall the Swifts return to Peru for the winter and then fly back for the spring and summer here. I guess after realizing that they are wonderful for insect control, we can put up with a little chatter for a few more weeks. They started chattering and chirping about a week ago, so we have maybe a week or two before they learn to fly and take off.

I guess I'll make it until then.

Clark County Diva



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