Sunday, June 5, 2011

Chimney Swifts, Blue Skies and Old Trees

Yesterday I noticed a group of Chimney Swifts flying over and around our house.  They were flying close together and making a high-pitched chirping.  I had to get my bird book to identify them, as I had never seen them before.  They were easy to photograph, as they kept making circles over the house.

In flight, this bird looks like a flying cigar with slender curved wings. These birds live on the wing, foraging in flight. They eat flying insects. They usually feed in groups, flying closely together and making a high-pitched chipping noise. Their flight is distinctive: they make rapid angular turns unlike most other birds.  Both the claws and tail bristles are used to cling to rough vertical surfaces.  Swifts are unable to perch or stand upright.

Look for the swifts in these photos.  The clouds and sky were magnificent.

The below photo doesn't have any swifts, but shows on the left the mighty pine tree in which the guineas sleep every night.  It's a very tall and old pine tree, taller than most of the other trees in the area. 

The great horse chestnut tree is on the right.  This is the only horse chestnut tree on the property, believed to have been planted by the settlers who came to this country.    The horse chestnut is not native to this area, and has many medicinal purposes which are very interesting.  Our homesight is the site of the original homstead built in the 1700's.  The former home was destroyed and the current house was built in the 1850s. 

I'm sure we have many other herbs and medicinal plants which were planted long ago, just waiting to be identified!



Knatolee said...

Beautiful photos! I love chimney swifts. And I love your horse chestnut. We had a beautiful one at our house in British Columbia. I need to plant one here!

Ronna said...

I love the photos of the chimney swifts. I have never seen them and know they are getting harder to find in these parts (likely due to a lack of available chimneys for nesting). Thanks for sharing.

Genny said...

The sky photos and the swifts are wonderful. We had horse chestnuts growing everywhere when I was kid growing up in upstate New York. We were ms ways making something out of them for fun. How are you? Are you still up for lunch at NAVSEA sometime?

LindaG said...

Great photos. :)

CeeCee said...

We have chimney swifts nest in our chimney every year. I love their chatter and am thrilled to be able to support an endangered species. I wonder where yours are nesting?

Shim Farm said...

Beautiful! I especially love the cloud photos. I haven't seen any chimney swifts in our area, but you can be sure I'll be on the look-out for them. I planted a horse-chestnut tree and I think this is the first year it will bloom. They take a long time to get established. It's nice you have a piece of living history on your property.

Nancy said...

Awesome cloud photos! I have never seen chimney swifts and they do look like cigars ;-) My father inlaw always carries a horse chestnut in each pocket for good luck he said.

Razzberry Corner said...

Nat - I never knew about chimney swifts before. I keep calling them "chimney sweeps"!

Ronna - I didn't know what they were at first, but they have a very unique sound, and now I can recognize them by their voices alone!

Genny - our horse chestnut tree is unique because it NEVER has any seeds. It has pretty white/slightly pink flowers all over it in spring. But no seeds, ever. Randy thinks it's a male tree. I think it's a female, but it has no mate, and so has no babies (chestnut seeds). But I really have no idea!!! :)

LindaG - Thanks!!

CeeCee - Last night I figured out th swifts are nesting in one of our unused chimneys! We have 7 chimneys in our old house. Only 1 is used in winter. Last night all the swifts were chattering and flying around the house, then they all dissappeared down the guest room chimney, and they didn't come out and got very quiet! One second they were everywhere, the next they were gone and silent! They must have just moved into the house in the past couple days, I would have noticed them before - they are very loud chattery birds. No wonder the inside cats spend all their time in the guest room now! And so we have at least 5 new guests living in the guest room chimney. Are they really an endangered species?

Shim farm - I thought the clouds were so pretty. In real life, the sun (white area) in the sky was impossible to look at, but it just turned out white in the photos. The swifts encouraged me took notice how pretty the sky was. Sometimes I just need to slow down and enjoy what's all around me!


Toni aka irishlas said...

Chimney swifts means that summer is here! They will fly along as I cut grass, swooping for bugs and giving me huge smiles! It's one of the few things I enjoy about cutting grass. Almost make the allergies worth it!