This is the End! (of the 2012 season)

The Doors lyrics had it right– “Of our elaborate plans, the end”

Our swifts have deserted our skies for points south.

Now it’s time for a wrap up of 2012 activities by the Manitoba Chimney Swift Initiative.

2012 was a difficult year in terms of volunteer effort, success with grant requests, and with the observation of swifts themselves. Approximately twenty-five volunteers submitted monitoring reports, but, especially in Winnipeg, we could have used more people to generate more data points. At a number of sites, we received few observations this season. On the positive side, we did recruit some new volunteers in smaller communities with active chimneys, and we retained a core group of committed volunteers. We also received a few “casual” reports that suggest new areas for monitoring  both in Winnipeg and in outlying areas (such as Souris, Winkler,, Steinbach, and Wasagaming). Previously unknown and active sites in Lorette, Otterburne, and Clearwater were also identified and monitored in 2012.
Monitoring results:
As far as our roost sites in Selkirk, Carman, and Dauphin , monitoring results for 2012 are mixed. Dauphin numbers are up from last year, Selkirk numbers are stable, and Carman results are diminished.
Because of the limited number of reports, it is difficult to draw reliable conclusions about overall success at nest sites. It appears that a number of usually-active Winnipeg sites have been abandoned, while reports from a variety of other areas suggest “business as usual” from visiting swifts. Based on monitoring reports, it looks like we had successful  breeding  in Winnipeg (four sites in the Saint James area). Winnipeg (Fort Garry). Winnipeg (Lord Roberts),  Winnipeg (Saint Boniface), Portage la Prairie (two sites),  Saint Adolphe (see report), Carman, La Broquerie, Clearwater (two sites), and Brandon (two sites). Check the Saint Adolphe annual report (see link below) for an account of breeding success and swift behaviour from an area with five well-observed chimneys.
None of the six artificial structures showed evidence of use this year.
The 2012 season in numbers–

  • ·         25 Sites monitored in Winnipeg– 15 Active sites
  • ·         28 Sites monitored outside of Winnipeg– 25 Active sites
  • ·         6 Artificial towers checked—None used by swifts
  • ·         19 Casual reports received—Winnipeg, Souris, Winkler, Wasagaming, Steinbach
  • ·         6 “New” active chimneys identified—Lorette, Otterburne (3), Clearwater (2)

The summary may be seen at, and the complete spreadsheet with individual  site reports  by site and locations of casual reports may be obtained by contacting the project coordinator at  Check our website at  for other information about the project.
From Saint Adolphe “The Chimney Swift Capital of Manitoba”
Saint Adolphe  has a unique cluster of five active chimneys and a very dedicated group of observers. It even has one of our artificial towers. Due to the vigilance of the Stewarts, our project has excellent data on swift behaviour and breeding success in St. Adolphe.  Annual reports since 2009 are available on the “resources” page of our website, and the new report for 2012 in PDF format  may be found is at The St. Adoplhe reports are particularly interesting since we have interpretation of results of many nights of simultaneous monitoring of all sites, and  we have inspection of chimney clean-outs to document presence of nests, egg shells, etc.
Artificial Towers:
2012 witnessed the erection of a new tower in the La Broquerie area. This “artificial tree,” constructed by a committed volunteer, offered wooden construction and more height above aground than our other towers. Unfortunately, this tower, like its brick and cinder block counterparts in Winnipeg, Portage La Prairie, Saint Adolphe, and Starbuck was not used by swifts this year. 
Temperature probes were placed in the La Broquerie tower, and the temperature results show a consistent but very slight (fraction of a degree) difference in temperature between the outside temperature and the temperature inside the tower. Unfortunately, the tower was not used by swifts, and we have no comparable temperature results from a nearby “active” chimney for comparison.  Previous studies have shown a slight temperature differential between the interior and exterior of artificial towers, but heat retention seems slightly better (and presumably more attractive to swifts) in a conventional masonry chimney.
Looking ahead to next year- Objectives for 2013:

  • ·         Recruit more volunteers to monitor known sites
  • ·         Check out a number of possible sites, especially in Winnipeg
  • ·         Encourage the large number of Breeding Bird Atlassers to check town sites in their areas for swift activity. There is a large pool of observers who may be able to provide a better indication of swift presence and absence throughout Manitoba. Atlassers’ reports should also help us locate new roost and nest sites.
  • ·         Continue with outreach activities through our web site, blog, displays at public events, and through other media.
  • ·         Liaise with other Canadian swift groups regarding the design of artificial habitat and best practices for monitoring
  • ·         Maintain contact with staff at the Selkirk Mental Health Centre (location of a major roost site and two other active chimneys)