How can you tell if you have bats or birds in your fireplace? People ask me this all the time and here is the scenario. Your sitting in your living room and you start hearing chirping noises coming from your fireplace. Is it birds? Is it bats?  Now you start to wonder what the heck it is so you call pest control. Pest control says they are not sure and maybe you should call “this guy” and that’s usually someone like me.

I am a wildlife control operator and I deal with noises in the chimney on a regular basis. Here’s what you need to know. First of all, does the noise get louder and louder  and then instantly stop with complete silence then pickup again a little while afterwards? Do you have a terrible urine smell coming from the fireplace?

If the noise gets louder and louder then suddenly stops – you can pretty much rest assured it is chimney swifts. Chimney swifts are birds not bats. These birds are considered good luck in some cultures and are migratory. The best course of action is to wait until they leave and then have a chimney guy actually fix the top part of your chimney. 

Chimney swifts often go into open top fireplaces, that are arch shaped, or have a flat cement top that is elevated like a slab of concrete sitting on four little columns. See the images on this page for reference.

Chimney swifts also dive very quickly in and out of the chimney, it’s actually amazing to watch.

Bats will flutter around the opening, often making several attempts at landing. Swifts will dive in so fast it’s sometimes hard to see!

Bats on the other hand almost always produce some sort of urine smell and they are usually not in the flue itself but rather in the firebox surrounding the vertical tube that the smoke exits through.

The most telling thing is the lack of odor – the loud chirping noises that suddenly STOP that tell you for sure it’s Chimney Swifts.

Chimney Swifts are really interesting birds too!

swift released right out the window after he was found in the fireplace