Making our communities healthy for birds... and people

Resources for Chimney Sweeps and Masons

Why care about Chimney Swifts?

Chimney Swifts have declined significantly in recent decades and need our assistance more than ever. In 2009, our northern neighbor, Canada, listed them as Threatened. Why?

  • Because of changes made to our landscape and the loss of historic habitat, swifts rely almost entirely on man-made structures for nesting and roosting sites. Our chimneys are their homes.
  • Chimney Swifts eat nearly a third of their own weight in flying insects, including pests, every day. 
  • Chimney Swifts are protected by law under the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1916.
  • Chimney Swifts’ aerial acrobatics and interactions have aesthetic value; observing them is a simple pleasure of nature.

Resources for chimney sweeps and masons

The Wisconsin Chimney Swift Working Group is partnering with chimney sweeps and masons whose customers are in Wisconsin.

The goal of the partnership is to identify chimneys currently in use by swifts and to enlighten customers on how to maintain the structures to benefit the species. Chimney sweeps and masons are on the front lines of identifying occupied chimneys and interacting with homeowners.

Awareness of Chimney Swifts and the chimneys they use is key to protecting the species. In pre-colonial times, swifts nested and roosted in large hollow trees. Later, as land was cleared for settlement and agriculture, most of these old trees were cut down, and swifts adapted to using chimneys. Now the Chimney Swift depends almost entirely on masonry chimneys for nesting and roosting habitat.

Swifts nest one pair to a chimney, and a pair nests in the same chimney each year. New construction design typically does not include chimneys suitable for swifts, and existing chimneys are being capped, reducing nesting habitat.

Free educational materials are provided to chimney sweeps and masons who are interested in working with the working group. In addition, working group members are available to help businesses and their customers concerning questions or issues that may arise.

If you have a masonry or chimney-sweep business and have not been contacted, please email or call (608) 658-4139.

Chimney sweeps and masons:

Brookfield: Contractor-X Masonry Division, (414) 519-1900

Cedarburg: Chimney Concepts, (262) 377-5811

Cambridge: Cam Rock Masonry LLC, (608) 444-6995

Chippewa: Falls B & M Masonry and Repair, (715) 210-0827

Columbus: Daizy Sweeps, Inc., (920) 386-9563

Eleva: Soot Loose Chimney Sweep, (715) 878-4706

Madison: Badger Chimney, (608) 244-6639

Menasha: The Chimney Guy LLC, (920) 830-1920

Menomonie: Sax Chimney Sweep Service, (715) 235-6044

Milwaukee: All for One Chimney, (414) 600-3845; Carlson’s Chimney, (414) 774-6955; Chimney Doctors, (262) 784-8000

Neenah: Advanced Chimney Specialists LLC, (920) 727-9166

Oconomowoc: Rock River Chimney and Foundation LLC, (262) 354-5090

Oostburg: Eernisse Chimney Repair and Tuck Pointing, (920) 564-6186

Racine: Midwest Chimney Service, (262) 770-5492

Reedsburg: Kosak Chimney and Stove Service, (608) 768-1776 or (715) 693-6564

Schofield: Schofield Foundation and Chimney Restoration, (715) 571-5613

Spring Valley: Tim’s Top Hat Chimney Sweep and Service, (800) 854-1788

West Bend: LifeTime Chimneys, (262) 377-4066


Read more:

Wisconsin Chimney Swift Working Group

Find the Wisconsin Chimney Swift Working Group on Facebook.

Learn about Chimney Swifts (All About Birds)

Chimney swifts are disappearing in Wisconsin; fixing up your home is one way to help (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, July 14, 2020)

Children's Book Helps Algoma Celebrate World Migratory Bird Day

By Cathy Pabich, Bird City Algoma Committee

I want to share some happy news from the Algoma Bird City Committee.

Local artist and children’s book author J. T. Toonen (Janet Tlachac-Toonen) authored her most recent book Birds Are Everywhere! specially to help us celebrate World Migratory Bird Day in Algoma. Although COVID-19 caused us to cancel the all-day event we usually offer, we are celebrating in other ways throughout September.

We started with a book signing. Bird City Algoma had a display table at the event. We feel uniquely honored by Janet’s generosity, since she also contributed a portion of her book sales to our committee. She is a longtime supporter who has participated in our celebrations annually.

Bird City Wisconsin communities celebrate the fact that you will find birds whether you live in a big city, a small town, or the country. The variety may vary and, in most cases, will change throughout the year. Birds Are Everywhere! shows kids some of the places birds can be found and what they like to eat.

Because birds can be found everywhere, kids everywhere can make a difference by feeding them. The book is a great rhyming story for ages three to eight and also serves as a mini field guide with photos of birds by local wildlife photographers.


Read more:

Read about the City of Algoma.

Visit the website of Bird City Algoma website.

Find Bird City Algoma on Facebook.


Resources for Avoiding Bird-Window Collisions

Every year in the United States, between 365 million and 988 million birds are killed after colliding with buildings. (Read the study.) Contrary to conventional wisdom, the greatest mortality does not occur at gleaming, glass-covered high-rises but at shorter buildings, and especially at residences.

This means that homeowners across the country have a great opportunity: By decreasing the number of birds that strike the windows of residences, they can dramatically improve the state of our birds.

Indeed, making windows safe is one of seven simple actions that scientists at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology say will dramatically improve the state of North American’s birds.

What’s more, providing property owners with information about how to protect birds from window collisions; enacting a collision-monitoring program and treating problem windows; and registering a municipal building in the Wisconsin Humane Society’s Wings BirdSafe Business Program are three of the criteria we use to evaluate communities that want to be recognized as Bird Cities.

See all Bird City Wisconsin recognition criteria.

Listed below are links to effective products that homeowners can use to reduce the number of bird-window collisions at their home, as well as excellent sources of additional information about the subject.


Products That Put a Barrier between Birds and Glass

Easy Up Shades
Panels of solar shade screen mesh that are attached to glass via suction cups.

Bird Crash Preventers
A preassembled curtain of taut monofilament lines strung three inches apart and five inches from the exterior of a window or sliding-door side panel.

Bird Screens
Transparent fiberglass black screen that hangs loosely in front of a pane of glass.


Products That Make Glass Visible

ABC BirdTape
Tape that is applied to the exterior of glass. Translucent, allows light to pass through.
Duncraft Wild Bird Superstore

Acopian BirdSavers
“Zen wind curtains.” One-eighth-inch-diameter nylon cords that dangle about four inches apart in front of a window’s exterior.

CollidEscape Bird/Window Strike Solutions
Antireflective vinyl or polyester film that covers the entire exterior surface of a window. Thousands of small perforations allow light to pass through.

CollidEscape High-Performance BirdTape
White or clear tape that is applied to the exterior of glass. Small perforations allow light to pass through.

Feather Friendly DIY Tape
Small white markers that are transferred from a roll of tape to a window’s exterior, leaving an attractive, unobtrusive grid of dots.

Solyx Bird Safety Window Films


How to Find a Rehabilitator

Wildlife Rehabilitation Center
Wisconsin Humane Society
(414) 431-6204

Wildlife Rehabilitation Directory
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
(888) WDNRINFo (936-7463)

Sick, Injured, and Baby Birds
Bird City Wisconsin


Valuable Collision-Related Resources



Bird-Friendly Building Design, 2nd Ed.

Glass Collisions

Help Pass the Bird-Safe Buildings Act

How to Keep Birds from Hitting Windows



Lights Out

Lights Out and Reflective Surfaces



Seven Simple Actions to Help Birds



Stop Birds from Hitting Your Windows



Window Collisions and Birds (PDF)



Preventing Window Collisions (WIngs)


Photo: This Nashville Warbler fell victim to a bird-window collision in Madison in 2020. Photo by Corliss Karasov, Bird Collision Corps volunteer. Courtesy Madison Audubon.

This list was compiled on August 24, 2021. You can help keep it up to date by reporting broken links via an email to the director.


Help Count and Track Chimney Swift Numbers in Wisconsin

Now is the time that Chimney Swifts start forming in communal gatherings before migrating south for the winter. This gives us an excellent opportunity to gauge their population numbers and try to assess trends for this species.

Unfortunately, according to the latest North American Breeding Bird Survey, the Chimney Swift population has declined by 72% in the past 50 years. By continuing to monitor these populations, we hope to learn more about how they are doing and identify important roost sites so we can find ways to help protect them. Because Chimney Swifts congregate in communal roosts before migrating in late summer/fall, it’s relatively easy to count them.

How to count swifts

1. Look for tall brick chimneys that are uncapped.

2. Pick one or more nights to monitor from early August in northern Wisconsin through mid- to late September in southern Wisconsin.

3. Observe the roost starting about 20 minutes before sunset until 10 minutes after the last swift enters the chimney. Please stay in one location, even if you do not see swifts right away. They may come to your site later, and you do not want to miss them. To be sure, stay 30 minutes after sunset to know if it was active or not. If you have zero swifts in your chimney, please record this. This is still valuable information.

4. Count (or estimate) the number of swifts as they enter the chimney. It’s useful to count in groups of five or ten when they enter quickly in large numbers.

When you do the count, you can help researchers access and utilize your data by entering the data on eBird. When prompted for a location, map your roost site to an exact address or point. After you enter the number of Chimney Swifts, please use the hash tag #swiftwi in the Chimney Swift details section. This will help us greatly in accessing the data.

If you want to go a step further, please add the following information in the Chimney Swift details section in this exact order, with semicolons separating the data: #swiftwi; the type of building (residence, school, church, business, hospital, apartment, swift tower/structure, etc.); the condition of the chimney (in good shape; in need of repair); any other notes (for example: #swiftwi; residence; chimney in need of repair; any other notes).

How to identify swifts

Chimney Swifts have slender bodies, with long, narrow, curved wings and short, tapered tails. (They look like a flying cigar.) They fly rapidly, with nearly constant wing beats, often twisting from side to side and banking erratically. Often, they give a distinctive high chittering call while in flight. They are the only bird that will roost in a chimney, dropping inside at dusk and emerging the next morning.


Read more:

Read more about Chimney Swifts and how to help protect them locally.

Even more about Chimney Swifts (All About Birds).

Survey seeks to ID chimneys providing Chimney Swift habitat

Download the eBird mobile app.


Celebrate World Shorebirds Day by Counting Sept. 1-7, 2021

Some 50% of the world’s shorebird species are in decline, and vital habitat is being lost at a higher rate than ever. Healthy populations of shorebirds depend on healthy habitats. Destruction of habitats, the killing of migrating shorebirds, global climate issues, public ignorance, and many more factors are resulting in downward trends of most shorebird populations.

The Global Shorebird Counts, held every year around Sept. 6, are key events held in celebration of World Shorebirds Day. The counts demonstrate the importance of field work, support observers by improving counting skills, contribute to an increase in the number of birdwatchers and scientists monitoring shorebirds worldwide, and fledge citizen scientists who contribute to the world’s largest bird database program.

Why count shorebirds?

Regular counts carried out by thousands of volunteers and professionals worldwide can reveal distribution, population trends, or abundance for any species. Bird monitoring is a key tool to determine whether a population is declining or increasing and/or needs coordinated conservation efforts.

This year, the week dedicated for counting shorebirds is Sept. 1-7. The dates may be great for birdwatchers in the southern part of the Northern Hemisphere but too early for counting migrants in the Southern Hemisphere. It’s impossible to set a date suitable for everyone. However, this program is not focusing solely on migrant shorebird species.

How can you take part?

Have an eBird account. The Global Shorebird Counts rely on eBird, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s advanced platform for data recording in the field. It’s the only way to share counting results of the Global Shorebird Counts. Download the eBird mobile app and add worldshorebirdsday to your contacts. Then count shorebirds at as many different locations as you can during that week. See below for locations of shorebird-viewing locations in Wisconsin.


Read more:

Read more about World Shorebirds Day.

Wisconsin sites that are good for shorebirds.

2013 map of shorebird-viewing opportunities in Wisconsin.

See results of Global Shorebird Counts in 2020.

Download the eBird mobile app.