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It's 'raining chimney swifts' for one CT bird rescue center

Live Chimney Swift chicks rest in a hand after being brought to the Sharon Audubon Center in Litchfield. More than 75 chicks have been brought to the center following this summer's historic rains and heat wave.
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Sharon Audubon
Live Chimney Swift chicks rest in a hand after being brought to the Sharon Audubon Center in Litchfield. More than 75 chicks have been brought to the center following this summer's historic rains and heat wave.

July’s hot, humid and wet weather is causing The Sharon Audubon Center to be overrun with chimney swift chicks.

The migratory birds build their nests inside chimneys. Their saliva hardens like glue when it dries, so the birds use it to stick their tiny nests to the chimney walls. But the heat, humidity and recent rains soften and weaken that saliva, causing nests to break or fall.

“People hear their little chirping, chattering noises, go over to their fireplace and they find these birds,” said Sunny Kellner, a wildlife rehabilitation and outreach specialist at the center.

When homeowners call, wildlife experts evaluate the situation over the phone. By using pictures sent to them by the homeowners, they determine if the chicks need to come to the center for treatment or if they can try and be re-nested.

Audubon's rehabilitation center received its first chimney swifts on July Fouth. Within less than a month, it had more than 80 chimney swifts in its care.

“It’s literally raining swifts for us," Kellner said. "They’re dropping like crazy."

In addition to Connecticut, the center receives birds from New York and Massachusetts.

“Our volunteers spend 14 hours a day, every day feeding these swifts every hour. They eat a lot of live insects,” she said.

The birds in their care will be released in late summer or early fall, when the species gathers into large flocks to migrate to South America.

Jennifer Ahrens is a producer for Morning Edition. She spent 20+ years producing TV shows for CNN and ESPN. She joined Connecticut Public Media because it lets her report on her two passions, nature and animals.
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