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Return of the Chimney SWIFTS

   

May 6 from 7 to 9 pm.

Come and see these migratory birds dive into the Hubbell Memorial Chimney after their Spring return from the Amazon Jungle. Corner of Bridge and Second Streets in Northville.


About Hubbell's Chimney

In Northville Hubbell’s chimney was built by Stephen Acker in 1880 during the construction of the Globe Metallic Binding Company owned by Ray Hubbell and James A. Cole.

Stephen Acker was a prominent builder in the area and was contracted to do many things. The stone bridge abutments under the first steel bridge at Northville in 1882, and painting area church spires to mention just a couple.

This landmark structure is also home to a yearly event. The chimney is a summer residence to swifts that fly approximately 7000 miles from the Amazon jungle to get there on the same date of May 6th every year. No one knows how this began. But the date happens to be when Ray Hubbell's son Frank was born.

This phenomenon was first observed by Walker LaRowe and Willard Weaver in the late 1940’s. Next year the chimney will be 130 years old and is showing signs of age, and may be the only structure left built by Stephen Acker in the Village of Northville.

Chimney Swifts info

In flight, this bird looks like a flying cigar with long slender curved wings. The plumage is a sooty grey-brown; the throat, breast, under wings and rump are paler. They have short tails.

Before European settlement of North America, the Chimney Swift probably nested in caves and hollow trees. The swift benefited greatly by the construction of chimneys and the increased availability of new nest sites. Recent changes in chimney design, with covered, narrow flues, have decreased the available nest sites and may be a factor in declining population numbers.

Chimney Swifts do not sit on perches like most birds, but instead use their long claws to cling to the walls of chimneys and other vertical surfaces.

Swifts are among the most aerial of birds, flying almost constantly except when at the nest or roosting at night. The Chimney Swift bathes in flight, gliding down to water, smacking the surface with its breast, then bouncing up and shaking the water from its plumage as it flies away.

The Chimney Swift is gregarious, with large numbers of swifts roosting together in a single chimney or air shaft during the non breeding season. Non breeding swifts will roost together in the summer too, and this behavior has fooled people into thinking that the Chimney Swift nests in colonies. In fact, only one pair nests in a single chimney. The pair may tolerate other swifts roosting in their chimney, though, further confusing people watching the swifts from the ground.

The fast, erratic flight of the Chimney Swift is characteristic of small swifts. It gives the very distinct impression that the swift is beating only one wing at a time, alternating wings. Careful investigation has shown, though, that a swift beats both its wings at the same time just like all other birds. The illusion comes at least in part from the frequent banking and turning.

swift

Chimney Swift

   
   

 

Back to Spring on the Great Sacandaga Lake


More info about Chimney Swifts

Chimney Swifts.org

NORTH AMERICAN CHIMNEY SWIFT NEST SITE RESEARCH PROJECT

swifts

 

 

 

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