Sully Takes Swift Action to Protect Migratory Birds

Sully Birds157Sully 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.

Sully chimney Swallow_080118_0017Chimney 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.

sully-birds162.jpgTaking 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 or by calling 703-437-1794.

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About Fairfax County Park Authority

About Fairfax County Park Authority HISTORY: On December 6, 1950, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors created the Fairfax County Park Authority. The Park Authority was authorized to make decisions concerning land acquisition, park development and operations in Fairfax County, Virginia. To date, 13 park bond referenda have been approved between 1959 and 2016. Today, the Park Authority has 427 parks on more than 23,000 acres of land. We offer 325 miles of trails, our most popular amenity. FACILITIES: The Park system is the primary public mechanism in Fairfax County for the preservation of environmentally sensitive land and resources, areas of historic significance and the provision of recreational facilities and services including: • Nine indoor RECenters with swimming pools, fitness rooms, gyms and class spaces. Cub Run features an indoor water park and on-site naturalist • Eight golf courses from par-3 to championship level, four driving ranges including the new state-of-the-art heated, covered range at Burke Lake Golf Center • Five nature and visitor centers. Also nine Off-Leash Dog Activity areas • Three lakefront parks including Lake Fairfax, Lake Accotink and Burke Lake, with campgrounds at Burke Lake and Lake Fairfax. The Water Mine Family Swimmin’ Hole at Lake Fairfax, Our Special Harbor Sprayground at Lee as well as an indoor water park at Cub Run RECenter • Clemyjontri Park, a fully accessible playground in Great Falls featuring two acres of family friendly fun and a carousel, as well as Chessie’s Big Backyard and a carousel at the Family Recreation Area at Lee District Park • An ice skating rink at Mount Vernon RECenter and the Skate Park in Wakefield Park adjacent to Audrey Moore RECenter • Kidwell Farm, a working farm of the 1930s-era at Frying Pan Farm Park in Herndon, now with historic carousel • Eight distinctive historic properties available for rent • A working grist mill at Colvin Run in Great Falls and a restored 18th century home at Sully Historic Site in Chantilly • A horticulture center at Green Spring Gardens in Annandale • Natural and cultural resources protected by the Natural Resource Management Plan and Cultural Resource Plans, plus an Invasive Management Area program that targets alien plants and utilizes volunteers in restoring native vegetation throughout our community • Picnic shelters, tennis courts, miniature golf courses, disc golf courses, off-leash dog parks, amphitheaters, a marina, kayaking/canoeing center • Provides 263 athletic fields, including 39 synthetic turf fields, and manages athletic field maintenance services at 417 school athletic fields. PARK AUTHORITY BOARD: A 12-member citizen board, appointed by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, sets policies and priorities for the Fairfax County Park Authority. Visit for Fairfax County Government's Comment Policy.

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