Six Degrees of Chimney Swifts

I received a forwarded note on my Facebook page from Don Polunci of Southern Adirondack Audubon.

“If you can help, please contact the folks listed: ‘I received an urgent call this afternoon from Laney Angel, a wildlife rehabilitator from North Country Wild Care in Bolton Landing NY. She has a Chimney Swift that cant be raised alone, and is looking for a colony to place it in. contact Laney at…’”

Chimney Swifts are described as “cigars with wings.” You could almost mistake them for bats, but look again and listen to their constant chatter and the “sailing” flight between stiffly bowed wingbeats. They hawk the evening skies for insects. When the sun drops below the horizon, they roost in chimneys (hollowed out trees are no longer available).

Individual birds will not survive alone. They need to be in a colony if they are to live at all. Laney, the rehabber, had been force-feeding a fledgling that had been rescued from a construction site while searching for an active group of birds in which to place it.

I thought: There is a colony in the town where I work! Every fall I go to the schoolyard on my way home to watch hundreds, sometimes thousands, of swifts swarm the evening skies before spiraling over the disconnected chimney. The birds drop, initially one or two at a time, but as the night comes on, they spiral into tornado-like flocks, then suddenly descend into the vortex, as if being vacuumed into safety.

I called Laney to verify the information, and then reached out to my birding contacts in NJ. Southern Adirondack Audubon; however, was already on the case. When I called Laney again a few days later, she told me they had not only located a viable colony, but they had also contacted the local fire department (shhh….don’t tell) who agreed to hoist Laney with her fledgling to a chimney atop a building so she could place it correctly with its own kind.

Six degrees of separation. The Universe. Social networking. Prayer. I don’t get how it all works but it does. There are countless, invisible people reaching out to help everywhere. I am one of them. So are you. Here was a bird not in this world for even a month, yet the energy of people living in two states resonated toward a common purpose. And while I was not able to help directly, somehow I feel I was part of its improved chances of survival.

It was a blip on our radar of compassion. But those blips ripple to places we cannot imagine and then, come back to us.

This entry was posted in Chimney Swift, Don Polunci, Southern Adirondack Audubon. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Six Degrees of Chimney Swifts

  1. forestal says:

    Nice story, glad the lil one got a good chance


  2. Bevson says:

    Oh, I'm so glad it all worked out. It would have been nice to have it be part of the local colony and to have been at the release. And you are right, all things happen for a reason.

  3. Kim says:

    I did not know that about chimney swifts! It is kind of awesome how things come together like that for the good of one small bird…

    Thanks for the uplifting story, Di!

  4. That's a wonderful story and goes to show you how people working together can make a difference. So happy it all worked out for the little one.

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