Chimney Swifts Nesting in a Barn Silo in Ozaukee County Wisconsin on July 18, 2016

I had the opportunity to photograph unique situation of a nesting pair of Chimney Swifts in the silo at a barn in Ozaukee County Wisconsin today. When I arrived the landowner, Tom Uttech, who is a known birder himself directed me to the location at the bottom of the silo inside. The bird was flushed when we went  in with the slightest nose we made, just touching cardboard. The amazing nest was built on the opposite side from where we were. It looked like it is glued to the inside wall of the silo and composed of small sticks, and not a very big nest. Tom left and in about 15 minutes an adult appeared fairly high up in the silo, I did not see it or hear it come in. It worked it’s way down to the nest kind of falling, fluttering and grabbing the wall at the same time. It went down just below the nest on the side and sorta flew into it. After about 15 minutes another adult appeared near the top of the silo again and also worked its way down. The adult on the nest flew out so fast I never saw it happen and the new adult replaced the one that was on the nest. My conclusion was they were incubating the eggs. When on the nest, they moved around in different positions as it looks like they were on different eggs on covering different parts of the nest. They each preened while on the nest but for the most part remained still, I could only see heart beat movements. One swift did some nest maintenance while on the nest. I asked the landowner how he discovered them? He said last year he noticed a couple of Chimney Swifts and bats too. this year he just thought he saw more Chimney Swifts. Then one day he went below the silo and looked in, it was a flush and he noticed the nest. He hoped the word gets out and everyone looks in silos to see there are more Chimney Swifts doing this. In the time I spent there a pair a Rock Pigeons showed up, made some odd sounds but peacefully left. See what the future brings with this, when will the eggs hatch? It was an amazing experience. Many thanks to the Tom Uttech for the opportunity to share this unique find with others. Images are not of the highest quality because light was very low and a flash was not used. Images were taken on July 18, 2016.


Chimney Swift

Binomial name: Chaetura pelagica

Category: Swifts

Size: 5.25” long, 14” wing span

Weight: 0.81 oz

Dropping down below the nest a little then it flies up into the nest

The Chimney Swift drops down below the nest starting from the top of the silo, then it flies up into the nest


Tail feathers

Tail feathers

Chin up against the silo wall in a different location on the nest

Chin up against the silo wall in a different location on the nest

Where the nesting is all taking place!

Where the nesting is all taking place!

Just the nest

Just the nest

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About admin

Window to Wildlife features the photography of Jim Edlhuber. A lifelong native of Wisconsin, Jim has been photographing wildlife for 20 years. He considers himself an avid photographer and is always trying to capture nature and wildlife through his lens. He is in several photography clubs and has won numerous awards for his work. In recent years, Jim has focused mostly on birding photography and finds it to be the most challenging.

13 Responses to Chimney Swifts Nesting in a Barn Silo in Ozaukee County Wisconsin on July 18, 2016

  1. Chris Rademacher says:

    Very very cool photos of the mysterious chimney swifts. Thank you.

  2. Nancy Nabak says:

    Love, love, love Chimney Swifts! This is beyond precious and wonderful! Thank you for your patience, skill, and passion, Jim! Your photos are a delight!

  3. Mary Korkor says:

    OMG Jim, You just taught me an important lesson. I have a similar silo. I will remove the door at the top and hope that next year I too will be calling you to take photos of Chimney Swifts nesting.

  4. Tom Wood says:

    I think you have photographed something that few people ever see. Amazing that you were able to actually see this bird on the nest and record your sighting with your camera. Thanks for sharing this great experience with us!

  5. Mary Zenker says:

    Fantastic! I love your description of watching them as well as your pictures.

  6. Kathi Johnson Rock says:

    Great work Jim. I always like these birds because they are related to hummingbirds. I guess the two birds share some similarities!

  7. Annie says:

    How very interesting Jim. Amazing how the animal kingdom is so “smart” to be able to attach a nest to a wall of stone/concrete. Thanks for sharing your adventure.

  8. Julie Woodcock says:

    What an amazing find! And how wonderful that these “smart” little creatures have found another door to their survival. Thank-you for yet another delightful sharing of your expertise.

  9. Pam says:

    These photos are simply wonderful! It’s a fantastic window into a world most of us will never see.

  10. Laura Wentz says:

    Just fascinating! What a rare opportunity. Thank you for sharing the photos.

  11. Maggie Jones says:

    These wonderful photographs underscore how important keeping old silos and farm buildings on the landscape for bats, vultures, chimney swifts,,the list goes on. We have such a sterile landscape even in rural areas. Thank you Mr Edlhuber! We are also planning to put a roof on our open cement stave silo in Crawford County, -now- modeled after this one!

  12. Thank you for sharing this story and your wonderful photos. We have roosting Chimney Swifts in a silo in our county in Illinois and do believed the nested there one year. In the fall, during migration, up to 400 Swifts were counted entering the silo to roost. My husband and I were coordinators for the Chimney Swift Tower projects for Kane County Audubon. These towers serve as artificial chimneys for nesting and roosting Swifts. We currently are monitoring and maintaining the towers and educating communities on this flying wonders.

  13. Gerald Haiar says:

    Beautiful and rare photos. Super cool.

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