This has been a strange year, a difficult year, in some respects. An overabundance of spring rain gave way to summer drought and a flurry of fierce storms. The storms, in particular, have proven hard on the living and arguably hardest on the birds. Strong winds shredded trees and the nests to which they offered insufficient protection. For many wildlife rehabbers in the area, the storms brought a rain of orphaned and abandoned birds. This past weekend, Natalie Miller, education and rehabilitation specialist with Nature’s Nursery, brought two of these foundlings to The Quarry Farm. The birds were chimney swifts and they are a welcome addition to the fauna here.
Chimney swifts (http://www.chimneyswifts.org/) are insectivores. Incredibly fast flyers, hence their name, they wheel about as sunset approaches, snatching meals of flying insects. And, again as their name suggests, they nest in chimneys, such as the one at Red Fox Cabin. Finding established populations of chimney swifts is becoming increasingly difficult. Abandoned or rarely used chimneys, the kinds of places where swifts can set up house unmolested, are rare. So it was worth the hour-long trip south to release these birds here, where others of their kind can help them learn the skills they’ll need to survive.
We took both birds out to the cabin just about mid-evening. Although there was no immediate sign of the resident swifts, they’re a common sight here. As it turns out, we only released one of the birds (the video of that release accompanies this post; don’t blink or you’ll miss it). As the released bird swept up and over the tree line along the road, five of the Red Fox Cabin swifts flew in from over the quarry and herded the newest member of their flock away from the soy bean field and back to The Quarry Farm. As for the second swift, it still needs a little more care, a bit more time to grow, before it’s ready for release. For now, it’s in the capable hands of Rita Seitz, and probably will be for at least another week. When the time comes for it to join the others, we’ll be sure to let you know.