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Chimney Swift

Chinstrap Penguin
Chestnut-sided Warbler

About the Chimney Swift

Also known as: Spine-tail

Chimney Swifts are small migratory swifts that breed in eastern North America and winter in northwestern South America. Males and females look alike: sooty dark bodies with paler feathers at the throat, breast, and under the wings.

Chimney Swifts are highly aerial; they are in flight almost constantly, except for nesting or roosting. They even bathe on the wing!

Because of their body shape, Chimney Swifts are sometimes called "flying cigars." They are highly gregarious and form huge flocks prior to and during migration.

Details & Stats

Hatched Added to Birdorable on: 29 September 2011
Scientific Name Chaetura pelagica
  • Apodiformes
  • Apodidae
  • Chaetura
  • C. pelagica
Birdorable Family Swallows, Swifts & Larks
Conservation Status Near Threatened
  • Least Concern (LC)
  • Near Threatened (NT)
  • Vulnerable (VU)
  • Endangered (EN)
  • Critically Endangered (CR)
  • Extinct in the Wild (EW)
  • Extinct (EX)
Source: IUCN Red List
(as of 28 July 2017)
Units: Imperial Metric
5.25 inches
14 inches
.81 ounces
Range South Africa North America Central America Caribbean South America United States (West) United States (East)


From IUCN Red List:
The Chimney Swift is listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List and was last assessed in 2012 by BirdLife International. This species is classified as Near Threatened as survey data has demonstrated that it has undergone a moderately rapid population decline due to loss of nesting habitat. However, trends for three-generation periods ending in 2006, 2007 and 2009 have reached 32%, 31% and 30% respectively, and should these rates of declines continue, the species may be uplisted to Vulnerable.

International Names

  • Andorinhão-migrante (Brazilian)
  • rorýs ostnitý (Czech)
  • Skorstenssejler (Danish)
  • Schoorsteengierzwaluw (Dutch)
  • piippukiitäjä (Finnish)
  • Martinet ramoneur (French)
  • Schornsteinsegler (German)
  • Rondone codaspinosa dei camini (Italian)
  • エントツアマツバメ [entotsuharioamatsubame] (Japanese)
  • Skorsteinsseiler (Norwegian)
  • Komniarczyk amerykański (Polish)
  • Иглохвост печной (Russian)
  • Vencejo de Chimenea (Spanish)
  • Skorstensseglare (Swedish)

Related articles

The scoop on swift poop

The scoop on swift poop

A chimney that served as a roosting spot for Chimney Swifts for almost 50 years may reveal clues to the decline of the species. Last month, headlines like "Clues to Species Decline Buried ... more