The site navigation utilizes arrow, enter, escape, and space bar key commands. Left and right arrows move across top level links and expand / close menus in sub levels. Up and Down arrows will open main level menus and toggle through sub tier links. Enter and space open menus and escape closes them as well. Tab will move on to the next part of the site rather than go through menu items.

The Buzz

Chimney Swifts Are Putting on Impressive Nightly Show in Mokena

There’s no doubt that animals are highly adaptable to their surroundings. And a perfect example of this is a group of chimney swifts that has recently taken up temporary residence in the Mokena Village Hall on Carpenter Street, gathering in an old chimney as they prepare to migrate south for the winter.

The village building is in the older section of Mokena, and the chimney swifts have been congregating there in the fall for at least the past several years, said Jessica Prince-Sharrar, education and outreach supervisor for the Forest Preserve District, who happens to live in the neighborhood.

Prince-Sharrar and some other neighborhood residents enjoy the annual visit from the chimney swifts, spending time outdoors watching the birds in flight.

“We go out there and watch them every night,” she said. “It’s like a little social hour.”

As their name implies, chimney swifts often nest in chimneys and similar structures. At this time of year, the birds congregate in preparation for migration, and sometimes hundreds or even thousands of chimney swifts may be roosting in one large chimney.

Using chimneys for roosting is an adaptation for the birds, which used to use hollowed out tree trunks as roosting spots. When much of the land in the U.S. was cleared for agricultural use, far fewer nesting spots were available, so they also began roosting in chimneys. While chimneys and similar structures – air vents, silos, barns and old cisterns – are the most common roosting spots, they do still sometimes congregate in hollowed tree trunks.


The flock of chimney swifts in the Mokena village building could include as many as 1,000 birds, Prince-Sharrar said. That number increases, too, as the days go by, with more birds joining the group as they prepare to travel south for the winter.

Prince-Sharrar said having the chimney swifts in her own neighborhood is “kind of a treat” because although chimney swifts are not an endangered or threatened species, their population is declining. They are considered a Common Bird in Steep Decline, according to the 2014 State of the Birds Report.

Among the reasons for the decline is a loss of habitat, Prince-Sharrar said. They are also affected by the use of herbicides and pesticides. As insect eaters, these attempts to control bug populations can be detrimental to their diet and ultimately to their health. 

Chimney swifts eat all manner of bugs – beetles, ants, flies, bees, wasps, etc. – and they catch them in flight, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology reports. In fact, the birds spend their entire lives in flight except when they are roosting or on their nests. They mostly forage over open lands but, as the flock in Mokena would indicate, they can also be seen flying over residential and urban neighborhoods. 

According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, their fall migration takes them from the eastern United States and Canada all the way to South America. Their stopover in Mokena will be temporary, with the flock departing the area during October, Prince-Sharrar said.


Stay up-to-date on the happenings in Will County's forest preserves by subscribing to our digital newsletter, The Citizen. Signing up is easy, free of charge and provides subscribers with weekly updates on Forest Preserve news, upcoming events, and other fun and useful information for the whole family.

Warblers Adding to the Sights and Sounds of the Spring Forest


Spring is migration time for many songbirds, including warblers. These small birds add to the sights and sounds of the forest this time of year.

Read More

Could A Vaccine Save Bats From White-Nose Syndrome? A New Study Shows Promise


Researchers have developed a vaccine that could prevent bat deaths from white-nose syndrome, an illness decimating bat populations in much of the United States.

Read More

The Plight of the Rusty Patched Bumble Bee


The rusty patched bumble bee is the first bee in the continental United States to be listed as endangered. Here's why that's important.

Read More

The Citizen Newsletter

Sign up for our newsletter for the latest updates