Family Portrait

As Linda peered through the peek hole into the dark chimney, she counted six Chimney Swifts on the north wall. Then she counted again. Yes, a parent had joined the group while we were getting our gear ready. They stayed put while she put the camera and tripod against the hole, put the LED flashlights up to the top peek hole and made a couple of images. The adult is the third from the left.

Then she changed settings to video, put the light back up to the hole and hoped for a few seconds of video. The parent stayed for 30 seconds more and was filmed as it took off. The children complained that it left but did not move for quite awhile.

When the chicks later dispersed around the chimney Bob was able to make several portraits. The angled window and the flash reflections made them a bit hazy. However we saw more detail than we expected.

In spite of their scientific name, swifts have powerful feet. They just can’t perch on them but must cling to vertical surfaces. This one flew to the west wall and showed off its strong feet and toe nails for this image. They are impressive and are probably the reason that some chicks object to another clinging to their backs.

This chick occasionally spoke in a more adult voice. Some people call this “chittering” though when we hear swifts in our neighborhood we have long said that they are twittering. Probably should change to chittering in light of the current usage. We wondered if it was trying to convince those on the other side to join it.

The tiny bill and wide gape and intelligent, inquiring eye are seen in this image. This one stayed down below the nest on the north wall while we were there today. The others all practiced flying. The east wall was the usual landing place – out of view of our cameras. We watched them on that wall on the local webcam monitor when we took our lunch break.

The acute angles from lens to bird through the glass using flash produces a greenish cast at the bottom of some files. Localized color correction was tried so we could make this post but we still ended up with greenish casts at the bottoms of these two jpgs. Were we to print these two images, that green color cast will need more work.

We did get a few seconds of video when they flew. After being quiet and unmoving for a number of minutes., one of the chicks raised its wings and started to flap. This disturbed the rest. Two went to the west wall and a few seconds later two went to the east wall leaving the chick in this bottom image. One from the west wall then joined the two that were moving around on the east wall.

We expect to see more flying next time we visit and hope we can photograph some of it.

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