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Two chimney swift hatchlings receiving care at CROW

By Staff | Jul 26, 2017

Two chimney swift hatchlings were doing well at CROW July 18. MEGHAN MCCOY

Four chimney swift hatchlings arrived at the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife on July 11, only two, or three days old. Unfortunately as of Tuesday, July 18, only two of the hatchlings are still alive.

On Monday, July 17, one of the hatchlings was euthanized due to issues with erratic breathing, and the other died in CROW Rehabber Yvette Carrasco’s hand. The two remaining are the oldest, weighing in at 8.9 grams and the youngest at 4.1 grams as of Tuesday, July 18. The oldest has almost doubled its weight since intake.

Carrasco said the hatchlings fell from their nest, which was located in a Fort Myers resident’s chimney. She said after determining there was no way to get the hatchlings back to the nest’s location, they were brought to CROW with their nest.

The hatchlings eyes were still closed once they arrived, and will remain that way until they are about 12 to 14 days old.

Since the hatchlings were not injured, they were given fluids and warmth. They are fed insectivore pellets that are watered down every 45-minutes. The pellets have to be smooth, so it can be injected into a syringe into the hatchling’s mouth.

Carrasco said they were gaping right away and feeding great.

When the hatchlings grow in their feathers, which the oldest is beginning to do, they will receive worms as a meal. Carrasco said in about another week the feathers should start growing in more.

The hatchlings will eventually be moved to a small enclosure where their weight can continue to be monitored and they can be introduced to a fake chimney CROW staff will build. Carrasco said they will eventually be fed inside of the chimney.

The chimney swifts have short legs and hold onto everything. They also have a unique chirp that is rather loud. Carrasco said they can travel up to 500 miles a day to search for food, which is done from the air. She said they can eat three times their weight in insects.

“They are like flying cigars in the air,” Carrasco said.

The chimney swifts only land to roost and nest because they cannot perch.

If they hatchlings do well through the rehabilitation process they will be released in a colony. Carrasco said they cannot be released alone.

“The colonies will welcome newcomers,” she said.

The closest hotspot for chimney swifts is Miami, which Carrasco said would most likely be where they will be released.