Swallows in Chimney: 7 Facts Homeowners MUST Know

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While the summer season might be on its last legs, there’s still plenty of time for swallows to take up residence in your chimney. These birds are known for nesting in chimneys and often return to the same nest year after year.

While these birds are often seen as a sign of good luck, they can also cause quite a bit of damage if they’re allowed to nest in a chimney. So, if you’re facing swallows in chimney problems, our guide is here to help!

Here are seven facts every homeowner should know about swallows in chimneys.

1. Do Swallows Live and Nest in Chimneys?

Swallows live and nest in chimneys when looking for a safe place to raise their young. The swallows usually hatch within 15 days, but their young can nest in your chimney for up to three weeks or more.

The birds often return to the same nest year after year, making it essential for homeowners to take action if they find swallows in their chimneys.

Swallows are a migratory bird species found across North and South America. These birds typically nest in tree cavities or cliffs but sometimes reside in man-made structures such as chimneys.

While swallows can make good use of chimneys as nesting sites, they can also cause problems for homeowners. In some cases, swallows may build their nests in a way that blocks the flue and prevents proper ventilation. This can lead to two problems: first, a fire hazard, and second, the possibility of deadly carbon monoxide fumes seeping into your home.

In addition, the droppings from swallows can be a health hazard, and their nesting material can also create a fire risk. As a result, it is vital to take precautions if you find swallows in your chimney.

How Do You Know if You Have Swallows in Your Chimney?

Swallows in the chimney can be recognized by the following signs: streaked brown feathers, a forked tail, and long, pointy wings. They often build their nests near the top of the chimney, so you may also see bits of mud or straw near the opening.

Let’s help you understand the exact signs that show swallows have taken up residence in your chimney:


Any birds living in chimneys can’t help but make some noise as they scurry about their day. So, if you hear gurgling, whining, or chirping noises from your chimney, there is a good chance swallows have nested inside.

Visual Signs

As mentioned above, swallows often build their nests near the top of the chimney. So, if you see bits of mud or straw around the opening, it’s a good indicator that swallows are present.

Another way to tell if swallows have nested in your chimney is by looking for their feathers. Swallows have long, pointy wings with streaked brown feathers. So, if you see any feathers near the chimney, they likely came from a swallow.

Unusual Odors

Droppings from swallows have a strong, unpleasant odor that smells like ammonia, and parent swallows come to remove their young’s droppings to prevent predators from smelling them.

If you notice a strong ammonia-like smell near your chimney, it indicates that swallows have nested inside.

What’s the Difference Between a Chimney Swift and a Chimney Swallow?

The confusion between a swift bird vs. a swallow is understandable because of some similarities and habitats. But the main difference is that swallows have shorter, more triangular-shaped, and less curved wings than swifts.

Chimney Swallows

Chimney swallows are a subspecies of the barn swallow, and their dark plumage easily distinguishes them.

  • As their name suggests, they often build their nests in chimneys, making them a nuisance for homeowners. However, these birds are also known for their striking appearance and acrobatic flying abilities.
  • Chimney swallows are small birds with glossy black feathers and long tails.
  • Their wings are pointed and streamlined with red throats and chestnut-colored belly feathers.
  • When in flight, chimney swallows appear graceful, effortlessly swooping and diving through the air.

Chimney Swifts

While they are sometimes confused with other types of swallows, they can be distinguished by their dark complexion and small size.

  • Chimney Swifts are small and dark and get their name from their affinity for roosting and nesting in chimneys.
  • Measuring only four to six inches long, these sparrow-sized birds are uniformly dark gray or sooty brown with curved bills and long, narrow wings. In addition, chimney swifts have long, curved wings that enable them to maneuver through the air deftly.
  • When roosting or nesting, chimney swifts typically congregate in large groups. As a result, homeowners with a problem with these birds may find dozens of them gathering on their property.

While chimney swifts can be nuisance animals, they are protected by federal law and should not be harmed. If you have a problem with these birds, the best course of action is to contact a professional wildlife control operator for assistance.

Are Chimney Swallows Protected?

Swallows are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. This law makes a killing, harming, or removing swallows from their nests illegal.

If you have swallows in your chimney and want to get rid of them, you will need to contact a wildlife removal specialist. These experts have the training and equipment to remove swallows from your home without harming them safely.

In most cases, the specialist will also be able to advise you on how to prevent swallows from nesting in your chimney in the future.

The Dangers of Having Swallows in Chimneys

Any birds that live in chimneys pose a significant risk to the home and its occupants. Swallows, in particular, can cause several problems for homeowners.

Flue Blockage

First, swallows often build their nests near the top of chimneys, which can block the flue and prevent proper ventilation. As a result, dangerous fumes from the fireplace or stove can build up inside the home and pose a serious health hazard.

In addition, a blocked flue can cause a fire inside the chimney. When this happens, the swallow’s nest will act as fuel, and the fire can spread quickly to the rest of the house.

Disease Risk

Another danger of having swallows in your chimney is the risk of disease. These birds often carry parasites and diseases that can harm humans, such as Taenia spp. and Toxocara spp.

In addition, swallows’ droppings can contaminate surfaces in the home and spread diseases like histoplasmosis. This condition is caused by a fungus that grows in bird and bat droppings and can cause severe respiratory problems in humans.

Therefore, avoiding contact with these droppings is essential when cleaning up a swallow’s nest.

How Do I Get Rid of Swallows in My Chimney?

There are different ways to get rid of swallows in the chimney, but the most important thing is to be sure that you are using a safe method for the animals and your family. Remember, these are protected birds, so it is illegal to kill them.

1. Block the Chimney Opening

One way to eliminate swallows in the chimney is to block off the opening with a screen or wire mesh. This will prevent them from being able to enter, but it is essential to check regularly to make sure that the opening has not become blocked by nesting material.

2. Use Irritating Noise

Another way to get rid of swallows in the chimney is to use a loud noise maker such as an air horn or whistle. This will startle them and cause them to fly out of the chimney.

3. Use a Light

Nobody likes seeing a spotlight shining on their face, especially at night, and swallows are no different. Shining a light into the chimney can irritate them enough to make them fly out.

4. Hire a Wildlife Removal Specialist

If you want to get rid of swallows in the chimney but don’t want to do it yourself, you can hire a wildlife removal specialist. These experts have the training and equipment to remove swallows from your home without harming them safely.


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How Much Does it Cost to Get Chimney Swallows Out of Chimney?

The average cost to remove swallows from the chimney is $200-$400. However, this price varies depending on the number of swallows, chimney size, and the difficulty of the removal.

The reason why it can’t be an accurate quote is that each job is unique. Some swallows may have already formed a nest inside the chimney, while others may just be roosting.

The first step in getting rid of your chimney swallows is to determine if they are nesting or roosting. If they are nesting, you must remove the nest before getting rid of the swallows.

If the swallows are roosting, you can try to scare them away or use a chimney cap to prevent them from returning. As we’ve shown, getting rid of swallows is possible, but it can be difficult for some. If you have any concerns, ask a professional for help.


Chimney swallows are a common problem for many homeowners. While they may look cute, these birds can cause severe damage to your chimney. If you suspect you have swallows in your chimney, it’s crucial to take action immediately.

Assess the situation to determine whether the swallows are nesting or roosting in your chimney. Taking action is vital to prevent further damage to your chimney.

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Thomas Green

Thomas has worked in the Chimney & Fireplace field for over 12 years. He is an expert in his trade and loves to help People with their needs. Thomas Write helpful articles so that homeowners can make the most informed decisions about their fireplace and chimney.