What is living in my chimney?

Hello all, 

Hoping someone can help me to identify what is living in my chimney. Over the course of a week or two I have only heard it at night - ranging from early morning to the dead of night. It is not a constant noise, nor a frantic one as if something is trapped. It comes in short bursts of anything from a few seconds to a minute. This usually continues on and off for around 10 minutes or so and then settles down with no noise for several hours. 

The noise is a high-pitched squeaking - too loud for a mouse but also not enough to be a large bird. Whatever it is it sounds like there is more than one of them and almost like they are fighting. It also comes with 'clunking', like wings beating against the wall. I can't make sense of it - it can't be baby birds because it's December and the wrong time of year to nest. Bats should be well into hibernation by now. Mice/rats would be down at the bottom of the chimney, but this is definitely at the top. 

Having done some research the closest answer I can come to is a Chimney Swift (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M7b8PpiNhJg), but these don't seem to be too common in the UK? Especially not at this time of year when they migrate south. But it certainly fits the bill. 

I have a recording which might help, captured last night at 2.35am. 

Thanks in advance, from someone desperate for a good night's sleep!!

3554.Chimney recording 1.m4a

  • I am sorry I do not have an answer, but wonder whether your local chimney sweep,could use a scope to look up .the chimney.
    Google showed this


  • It's a bit difficult to hear your recording even with the volume turned right up but it sounds like some wing fluttering. My guess would be something like House Sparrows roosting overnight particularly if it's an old chimney which may have ledges.
    I think you can rule out any sort of Swift, especially Chimney Swifts which are an American species, they would all be long gone by now.
    SunnyKate's suggestion sounds like it might be a way forward.



    My Flickr Photostream 

  • Could you look at chimney from a distance at dusk & see if you spot birds flying into it. They may be having a bit of a squabble in the middle of the night, as TJ says, House sparrows are a good bet. Otherwise could it be an Owl taking it's prey up there & flapping a bit while it eats? Or maybe 2 Owls sharing a prey?

    Best wishes

    Hazel in the Gironde estuary, France

  • Hi all,

    Thanks for all your responses and suggestions. To update you, our resident tawny owl fell down the chimney last night...! He has been safely rescued and released and we are looking to cap the chimney asap to prevent him falling down there again.

    It did sound a lot like the squeaking noises moved from the top of the chimney down to behind the fireplace where he was stuck last night, but he was on his own when we got to him. Haven't heard the noise since either. Could it have been him the whole time? I was reluctant to suggest this in my original post since it sounded more like the noise was inside the chimney rather than on top, and didn't sound like a noise that a tawny owl would make. But Noisette you may have been right on the money!

    If it wasn't him or his prey, it sounds like he has scared whatever it is away for now anyway.

    Thanks again :)
  • Brilliant News

    So pleased safe and released. Thank you for updating.

    You say resident, so do you hear it or see it? Do Let us know.


  • Mystery solved, thanks for letting us know. Glad the owl was OK.



    My Flickr Photostream 

  • We had not seen it until we came face to face with him last night, but he has been very vocal for the past couple of weeks. I have recordings of him but don't think I can post them as a comment. I heard his (presumably) mate calling for him last night too whilst he was being rescued and after being released, but haven't heard him respond to her yet. Hope he is just recovering and hasn't died from shock!

    He did hop out of his box and flew away without any visible problems when we released him though, so I'm hopeful that he has survived the ordeal unscathed.
  • Great and interesting update with mystery resolved; well done for rescuing the owl and I'm sure he'll be just fine now he's been released again. Thanks to you he'll live on to hoot and get into mischief another day !


    Regards, Hazel 

    "Each kindness shown to birds or men is sure to flutter back again" 

  • Great time of year or a happy ending,thanks for the update


    Birding is for everyone no matter how good or bad we are at it,enjoy it while you can