Last spring, just after buying a large plasma tv for the living room, and setting it up in front of the unused fireplace, for want of other quick options, strange noises were heard from that spot. A funny sort of chattering or extended staccato whistling ... what on earth? Then a small bird plopped onto the floor one day and I discovered that the noises were from chimney swifts nesting here. I couldn't move the tv and heavy stand to put the bird back up the chimney as I should have, so I tried to put it in a safe spot outside. Probably never made it, although I never saw proof of its demise. If it fell after an unsuccessful attempt at flight, perhaps the next try was a success. It seemed mature enough. Interestingly, they need to be offered something vertical to cling to, as they don't perch on other surfaces. Brick and mortar chimneys are ideal.
So, this surprise was reason to learn something new. I found that chimney swifts are endangered, and protected by federal and state laws. ChimneySwifts.org tells us that, "Chimney Swifts are extremely beneficial. Two parents and their noisy offspring will consume over 12,000 flying insect pests every day. These include only small things like mosquitoes, gnats, termites and biting flies. Unfortunately Chimney Swift numbers are in decline due to loss of habitat -- first large hollow trees, and now open masonry chimneys."
Now, after rearranging the furniture, I've got access to the fireplace again and am all ready to retrieve and replace any fallen little ones this year. But so far, so good. The chattering goes on and no arrivals on the floor. I hope there's a large family enjoying any and all mosquitos!