Sully Historic Site has new residents. More than 200 years after the first residents moved in, a new family calls it home. Chimney swifts have lodged in, well, the chimney of Sully’s original 18th century kitchen. Their temporary nesting site selection means there will be programming changes at the historic park.
Chimney swifts are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. It’s illegal to disturb them, their nests or their eggs. To protect the birds for the next six to eight weeks, Sully will make some changes. For one, no fires in the fireplace until they leave.
Taking photos of Sully’s new residents
Sully’s original kitchen hearth and chimney have been usable for centuries, and kitchen programs often include a hearth fire demonstration. To prevent disturbing the birds’ nesting cycle, no fires for the time being. Sully’s primary focus is the preservation of the site’s historic structures and resources, but as part of the Fairfax County Park Authority, there’s pride in the responsibility of protecting natural resources, too.
When they do leave this fall, the chimney swifts will use their stiff, nearly non-stop wingbeats to carry them to Central America, Peru or elsewhere in South America’s Amazon Basin. While they are here, you might spy them flying over towns or across bodies of water. They seldom rest, and they can only hold onto vertical surfaces because of their long claws. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology says the population of these “flying cigars” rose when Europeans brought building styles that included chimneys, and those numbers may fall again as we shift to covered, narrow flues.
To learn more about swifts, stop by any of Fairfax County Park Authority’s five nature centers for a visit.
Sully Historic Site is located at 3650 Historic Sully Way, Chantilly, VA 20151, off Rt. 28 (Sully Road), ¼ mile north of Rt. 50 and five miles south of the Dulles Toll Road. Get information about Sully online at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/sully or by calling 703-437-1794.