Those horrific noises coming from your fireplace and chimney during the spring, summer and fall are not a confused Santa Claus or alien invaders but are more likely the sounds of a distressed bird seeking an escape from your chimney. Since most birds cannot fly vertically, but rely on wind currents and distance to achieve higher altitudes, the confining walls of your chimney may trap curious and injured birds who unfortunately find their way into your chimney. This noisy inconvenience is both easy to remedy and prevent.
Prevent birds from entering your chimney by installing a chimney cap and regularly checking your existing chimney cap to determine if repair or replacement is necessary. Chimney caps cover chimney pipes, leaving only a small opening for smoke to escape and limiting the amount of space available for birds to easily enter chimneys. Keeping your chimney flue closed when you are not using your fireplace or wood stove prevents birds that enter your chimney from accessing the interior of your home.
To remove live birds from your chimney, open all windows and doors in your home before opening your chimney flue. After opening the flue, immediately hold a cloth or mesh sack or net underneath the flue to catch falling birds. Should the bird fly into the home, avoiding the net, herd the bird out one of the open doors or windows. If your chimney includes an outdoor clean-out door, open this door as well. You may also try lowering buckets with handfuls of birdseed into the chimney, and attempt to pull the bird out of the chimney in the bucket.
Frequent sounds of birds in your chimney may indicate that a flock of chimney swifts are using the interior and exterior of your chimney as nighttime nesting locations. These unusual birds do not perch on limbs, power lines and other horizontal surfaces and landings like other birds but cling to the chimneys and other rough, vertical surfaces with long claws. If your chimney has a slick, metal liner, chimney swifts may become trapped and are unable to climb to the top of the chimney to escape.
Should the birds rattling around in your chimney be chimney swifts, you will need to call a chimney sweep and local fish and wildlife officer to aid in removal of the birds. However, these professionals will recommend simply tolerating the occasional disturbances due to the fact that these birds are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Under this act, persons who destroy nests or kill chimney swifts in attempts to remove the birds may suffer penalties and fines. Additionally, if you suspect birds may have built nests in your chimney, have your chimney cleaned before the next use to prevent fire hazards.