Ever since thousands of Vaux’s swifts decided the mothballed chimney at a Vancouver Island museum would make a terrific pit stop on their annual migration north, the task of museum chimney sweep has taken on a whole new meaning.
For a fourth straight spring, huge blurs of the little birds are appearing at dusk, spiraling above the Courtenay Museum before disappearing en masse into the red brick cylinder to roost overnight.
A recent estimate put the number of swifts in the chimney at 4,500.
Nature’s choreography may lead them in, but birds that get in too deep, need help getting out of the chimney. That’s when museum staff spring to the rescue.
“I went down [to the boiler room] this morning, looked inside the fire box and pulled out 55 swifts that were stuck in there,” said Pat Trask, curator of natural history. “I grabbed,…