Trio of Chimney Swifts take flight with Pilot n Paws

Harry Sullivan
Published on August 11, 2014
A young chimney swift, one of three orphaned chicks that are being cared for at the Cobequid Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre in Hilden, is seen being hand fed.
Submitted photo

HILDEN - A trio of two-week old orphaned chimney swifts are getting a second chance at natural migration thanks to the assistance of the Cobequid Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre (CWRC) and Pilot n Paws.

The Cobequid Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre in Hilden received the orphaned chimney swift chicks last Monday evening and co-founder and wildlife veterinarian Dr. Helene Van Doninck said they have been working around the clock to keep up with the young birds’ hungry appetites.

Chimney swifts are an endangered species protected by federal law and the centre has obtained the necessary permission to transfer them to the Quebec based wildlife rehabilitation group, Le Nichoir.

Although the CWRC has successfully rehabilitated and released chimney swifts before, in recent years the Nova Scotia chimney swift population tends to migrate south in mid August, well before these chicks would be ready for release. However, chimney swifts in the Quebec and Ontario region tend to migrate much later, in September.

“ Chimney swift chicks of this age require feedings every half hour and are very fragile,” Van Doninck said. “The transport of these chicks must be completed very carefully and quickly.”

CWRC co-founder Murdo Messer will be accompanying the swifts on the 4.5 hour flight to

Montreal with Pilot N Paws to ensure that their dietary, temperature-controlled environment and overall health requirements are met.

Swifts mate for life and often return to the same chimney each year to nest. Swifts migrate

south every winter to the upper Amazon River in Peru, Brazil and Northern Chile. Chimney swifts prey on flying insects such as mosquitoes and flies.

The Cobequid Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre is a registered non profit charity that has

been caring for injured and orphaned wildlife since 2001. The CWRC operates solely on

donations from the public. To make a donation, please visit