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Chimney Swifts! Well, that’s just “for the birds”!

You’ve been hearing strange sounds from your chimney.  Not big sounds, but consistent and maybe a little disturbing.  The good news is that it’s not forever.  The Chimney Swifts! Well, that's for the birds!- Spartanburg, SC- Blue Sky Chimney Sweeps-w800-h597bad news is that it will likely get worse before it gets better.

Most likely what you have are Chimney Swifts.  And these birds are protected by the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act.  If there is an active nest, (one being built, one with eggs, or one with live babies) it cannot be touched – on pain of death.  No, it will not really lead to death, but there are stiff fines that can be imposed that ARE very painful.

Protection of Chimney Swifts

The Chimney Swift Conservation Association is passionate about promoting education regarding these birds that resemble bats when in flight. The chimney swift is protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and they should be handled with respect and care. As mentioned, once a chimney swift nests, it is illegal to remove it. So if it does nest in your chimney, you will have to wait until the bird leaves on its own.  Proper handling and rehabilitation of these birds is of the utmost importance to ensure they continue to thrive in North America. Whether you choose to let chimney swifts in your chimney or would prefer they made a home elsewhere, there are humane ways of handling both.

What to do?

In most cases, if the birds haven’t found your chimney yet, a simple cleaning of your chimney and making sure your chimney is capped (fitted with an animal guard) will humanely protect them and your chimney.

There are also options to deal with this issue if the birds have already taken up residence:

  1. You can wait until the birds are gone for the season (September/October). When they leave for the year, the chimney can be swept to remove nesting material, droppings, etc.  After that, it would be a good idea to install a cap with an animal guard so they can’t return to your chimney next Spring when they come back.  Historically, it seems that once they find your chimney, they tend to come back every year.
  1. If you want to address it before then, an effort can be made to resolve the situation once the birds have completed the nesting process. The nesting process cannot be disturbed, so all hands are tied until the birds fledge (are able to fly out on their own) and they vacate the chimney.

It is crucial to pinpoint when they first began to chatter (sounds sort of like shaking maracas). Can you remember when you began to hear them make the chattering noise?

  • 1 week old – chattering begins
  • 3-4 weeks later adolescent birds can fly

You will need to schedule an appointment with your chimney sweep for about 4 weeks after the chattering begins.  If all birds vacate the chimney after the nesting process is complete, your chimney sweep can service the chimney and install a cap.

Blue Sky Chimney Sweeps|Bless Your Hearth are your chimney sweeping professionals.  Our certified and experienced technicians can sweep your chimney and cap it so no birds or other animals can call it home.  Click here to contact us.

What it means for a Chimney Sweep to be “certified” (or not)!

It’s rare that I get the urge to copy someone else’s work word-for-word, but in the case of today’s blog, I really “couldn’t have said it better myself”! So here’s our message “straight from the horse’s mouth” — Courtesy of Jordan Whitt.

What it means for a chimney sweep to be certified or not - Spartansburg SC - Blue Sky Chimney

Certification: Clear As Mud

Certification is a tricky thing, particularly in an unlicensed (or mostly unlicensed) industry like ours as almost anyone can craft a list of job-related questions, package and sell them as an“exam” and then “certify” those who pass, maybe even providing a fancy certificate and ID badge as added value. It’s actually not a very complicated process, but it does make things more complicated for consumers.

Even in the in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, “certification” is so loosely defined that it could mean pretty much whatever you want it to, and this is exactly what people take advantage of when they use “certified” as an adjective to describe their business or product.

On one hand, having multiple certification providers with different sets of requirements and standards makes “certification” more attainable for those working in the industry, but itpotentially does so at the expense of alienating consumers who are then forced to either do the necessary homework to differentiate one certification from another in a field they likelyknow little to nothing about or make an ill-informed hiring decision. While we definitely value competition, we have to balance that with our commitment to educating and protecting consumers. It’s also worth noting that true competition can only exist between two or more entities offering products of similar quality.

This topic may be off-putting, but it is extremely important, because the last thing we want is for a homeowner to be mistreated or poorly serviced by someone who they believed was well qualified because the word “certified” was included somewhere in their branding— it does serious damage to the industry and can be especially discouraging to those who must work hard to maintain their credentials through a commitment to continuing education and by living up to the highest of professional standards.

*Quick Public Service Announcement*

If you ever feel like you’ve been taken advantage of by someone who claims to be a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep, please let us know immediately and we’ll investigate. CSIA does not tolerate this kind of behavior from its Certified Sweeps and we have no problem revoking the credential when warranted. We can be reached at office@csia.org or (317) 857-5362… Okay, now back to our regularly scheduled blog post

If you’re a homeowner in search of someone to service or inspect your chimney and you run across the word “certified” PLEASE take a few minutes to do some additional research before making a hiring decision (usually a quick Google search will do fine). Things you’ll need to look into include the following:

  • Is the word “certified” just part of the business name or is it an earned designation? (even if it’s the latter, don’t stop there with your research!)
  • Is the certifying body or organization accredited?
  •  Is the certifying body a for-profit business or nonprofit entity run by a board of directors?
  • Must the certification be maintained and renewed through continuing education as the industry evolves, or is it earned through a one-time exam?
  •  Is the certifying body well-established or are they relatively new to the scene? And if they are new to the scene are their requirements for certification more or less stringent than those of more established entities?
  •  Is the mission statement of the certifying body focused on educating and protecting homeowners or is it more focused on making it easier to people to earn “certification”?
  •  Does holding the certification in-question require adherence to a code of professional ethics?
  • Does a Google search for the certifying body lead to articles and stories published by trusted and respected information sources?

If you have any questions about any of the above information, please do not hesitate to reach out to us!

About the author: Jordan Whitt is the current Director of Communications and Marketing for the Chimney Safety Institute of America.  You can occasionally find Jordan doing some public affairs work for the American Red Cross or Indiana Department of Homeland Security. You can email him directly at jwhitt@csia.org. I just want to say “thanks very much” to Jordan for his generosity in letting us borrow his words for today’s conversation. ~Renée Brigman, Blue Sky Chimney Sweeps|Bless Your Hearth