The New Student's Reference Work/Chimney-Swift
Chimney-Swift, mistakenly called chimney-swallow, is not even distantly related to the swallow, its stiff, mechanical flight being wholly different from that bird’s graceful motion. If not characterized by grace, the flight is very swift and is long sustained, and the bird is well-named the swift. It is said it can travel 1,000 miles in twenty-four hours, stopping only to roost in occasional tree or hollow chimney. The bird does not perch, but clings to a rough surface by means of sharp claws and sharper tail. Its nest, built in an unused chimney, seems more like a shelf than a nest. It is almost flat, and is woven entirely of sticks fastened to the wall by a sort of glue that flows from the mouth during the breeding season. This glue becomes hard and very strong, and the nests are fastened most securely, though, as is well known, a sudden fire in the chimney brings disaster. The four to six eggs are white. With beak and feet the bird, while in flight, breaks off sticks for the nest, and while in flight feeds, going through the air with mouth wide agape—as do its kin, the nighthawk and whippoorwill, and as does the swallow. Swifts rid the air of gnats and mosquitoes; they travel in the late afternoon and early morning. In color they are a sooty gray. The birds breed from Florida to Labrador and west to the Great Plains, are common summer residents and migrate in April, September and October. See Dugmore: Bird Homes; Blanchan: Birds Every Child Should Know.