Audubon Welcomes "Skidaway Swifties"

Courtesy Of Skidaway Audubon

Skidaway Island is rolling out the welcome mat for some potential new residents named Swift who travel extensively and like to tweet.  No, it's not the Taylor version of Swifts, but fascinating little flyers called Chimney Swifts.

Skidaway Audubon recently erected a 12-foot tower near the intersection of Landings Way and Priest Landing to attract Chimney Swifts to help in the recovery of this important species. Between 1970 and 2014, researchers documented a 65 percent decline in the number of Chimney Swifts. The decline is attributed to the loss of nesting sites: old growth forests, old industrial chimneys, and capped residential chimneys.

Audubon groups, Boy Scouts, and other community groups throughout the country are erecting towers to provide swifts with alternative nesting sites. Just like in uncapped chimneys or old, hollow trees, the birds build their saucer-shaped nests on the interior walls of these structures using only a few twigs and their sticky saliva. 


Swifts are desirable neighbors as they consume thousands of mosquitoes, gnats and other flying bugs every day as they dart through the air. And these little dark gray birds with a 12-inch wingspan must fly constantly. They are physically unable to perch because their long claws are designed for clinging to walls.

Both parents build the nest and incubate the eggs. The baby birds hatch in about 20 days and leave the nest about a month later. At the end of the breeding season, the birds form large flocks and fly to South America for the winter. According to Cornell University experts, a nesting pair will not allow another pair to use the same nesting site. However, non-mating swifts may be allowed and may help with incubation. When nesting season is over, an entire migrating flock will use a single chimney structure for overnight roosting, funneling themselves into it in a spectacular swirling motion, while making high-pitched twittering sounds.

The Audubon project, named Chimney Cove, cost $1,700. Skidaway Audubon Bird Trail Project Co-Chairs Brenda Ecken and Sarah Lucas oversee the maintenance of Audubon’s 240 bird houses. They began researching swift towers in late 2022 and secured plans from the Chimney Swift Conservation Association. They obtained funding in early 2023 from the Landlovers Foundation, Orphaned Bird Care, and Lucas & Associates. The Landings Association (TLA) assisted in the search for a suitable location. Artwork on the tower was created by Landings artist Phyllis Tildes. Supplies were acquired, construction was aided by Landings resident Geoff Jegier, and installation was completed this past April with significant help from TLA Public Works personnel.

While it can take a year for some towers to become occupied, other towers can become nesting sites in just one season. Ecken and Lucas have high hopes for the tower as swifts have been seen on Skidaway Island this spring.

As neotropical migratory birds, Chimney Swifts are protected under the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Harassing, injuring,killing swifts, or destroying their eggs or nests, is illegal. Cornell researchers note that they are on the list of birds most at risk of extinction without significant action to reverse declines.

“In addition to helping restore swift populations, this project also will provide an opportunity to educate residents about the natural wonders that help make The Landings such a treasured community,” noted Skidaway Audubon President  Dawn Cordo. “We want to thank Brenda and Sarah for their initiative and hard work and for bringing this new and important resource to our community so we can learn from and appreciate Skidaway’s Swifties!”

The structure only requires an annual cleaning after the fall migration – and perhaps a “Do Not Disturb” sign so prospective nesters are not frightened off by curious humans! Area residents who notice swifts near the tower can report sightings via email to Lucas and Ecken (


Photo by Sarah Lucas

This article was originally published by The Landings Association on their website.

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