Another one bites the dust!

Well another Chimney Swift season has come and gone, and we all need to find something else to do during the roost hour!

I would like to thank you all for taking the time to monitor your sites and report your observations. It took dedication– whether your sites were active or vacant and despite a variety of weather conditions.

Let’s not dwell on the lamentable conditions early in the season or swifts which didn’t respect the “roost hour” or “active” chimneys without swifts or sites far removed from Tim Hortons or promising sites spurned by our avian quarry…

 2013 season highlights:

First swifts reported: May 12 (Saint Adolphe)
Last swifts reported: August 26 (Selkirk)

“New” active sites found in Winnipeg (two sites), Steinbach, Lac du Bonnet*, The Pas*
In Lac du Bonnet and The Pas there are reliable daytime reports of swifts and apparent nearby chimneys for roosting, but we don’t yet have documented entries into chimneys.

  • 60 sites observed
  • Sites monitored with NO swifts observed: 18
  • Sites monitored with 1 to 4 swifts observed: 19
  • Sites monitored with 5 or more swifts observed: 13
  • 7 towers checked

As I’m sure you all recall, the season started with cool and rainy weather and the the later-than-usual return of swifts to many locations. Overall monitoring results were erratic with “normal” seasons in some locations and late-arriving or absent swifts at others. Dauphin saw a record peak number of swifts (121) at its roost site, making one wonder where the “extra” birds came from and where they ended up. The Selkirk roost had off-peak numbers at the main site and increased numbers at a nearby secondary site. The Carman main roost site saw lower than usual visitation, but a one-time spike in numbers at a secondary site.

A few monitoring reports noted that swifts arrived or departed outside the expected “roost hour window,” and this factor suggests that we may have missed a number of entries and exits at some sites. It is possible, then. that some sites  may have erroneously been counted as vacant. Some other reports noted the proximity of many swifts that didn’t enter the expected chimney: this suggests the existence of sites that we have yet to identify.

We participated in a nationally planned four day  monitoring project at selected sites. It turned out the designated dates were too early for many of our swifts, and some sites saw their first swifts on the last day of observation. The cool and wet weather didn’t help either…

As far as our artificial towers are concerned, the less said, the better. The five towers erected by the Chimney Swift Initiative remain vacant, as do two “artificial trees” in the La Broquerie area. To our consternation, towers in Minnesota do attract swifts.

Early in the year, two members of the steering committee for the project attended a Chimney Swift Workshop in Montreal. We made two presentations and met with representatives from various Canadian and American swift projects. Discussions revealed a number of common concerns, and the groundwork has been laid for coordinated monitoring and species recovery efforts.

For your viewing pleasure:
A summary of moniring results is posted on our website, and it outlines peak numbers of swifts seen at sites from 2007 to 2013. Cast your eyes to

The summary of the four-day monitoring results may be seen at

I recently completed the final report in connection with funding received from the provincial Endangered Species and Biodiversity Fund. The narrative part of the report is available on our web site at

As you all know, the cluster of five swift sites in Saint Adolphe is a jewel in the crown for the Chimney Swift Initiative. The 2013 annaual summary of activity in Saint Adolphe may be viewed at   Special thanks go to the Stewarts for their monitoring and analytical efforts.

In closing, thanks again for your efforts in support of the project!

Frank Machovec