Manitoba Chimney Swift Initiative: Bulletin  3 May 2014
The switch was thrown and the now above-average daily temperatures resulted in a fast hatch of mosquitoes and other insects. The 30+ C temperatures also spawned thunderstorms in the Dauphin and Brandon regions. However, our dedicated monitors prevailed and we have some excellent reports from May 29th, the third of the nationally-coordinated monitoring nights…
In Winnipeg, two exciting developments took place. First, there was a sensational roost at Site no. 6 = 175 Winston Rd; Assiniboine School. Adolf, David, and Peter had 66 swifts roosting for the night! Last year’s count peaked at 8 chimney swifts. For this year’s national blitz nights, David summarized that: “May 21 was pretty quiet. May 25 more birds (20) roosted than at any other time over our years of observing. May 29 unbelievable – 66 birds roosted at Assiniboine School Site #6.” Momentum seems to be building for the roosting mass at this location.
Second, the Old Grace Hospital site, which was saved from demolition by the hard work of Nicole Firlotte and the Wolseley community, has come on-line this year. Three swifts were seen entering the chimney mid-way through the roosting hour.
In St. Adolphe, there were fewer birds about but they were committing to nest sites – 12 swifts roosted and 1 was unaccounted for by the end of the roosting hour (compared to 15 swifts in town on May 25 with only 5 roosting). Significantly, all the nest sites are now claimed. Rob had a wild ride with numerous entries/exits over at Club Amical. After sorting through the data, it was apparent that a pair used the SE Club Amical chimney, although only 1 roosted for the night, and 2 swifts roosted in the NE Club chimney. ​Jacquie noted that 3 swifts roosted at Brodeur Bros.; Roberta had 2 swifts roosting at the Church; and I had 3 in the Main St. site. We were able to view Brodeur Bros. for about 25 minutes before the roosting hour (I like to think of this as a “robust roosting” session); a pair entered and then left the chimney after a few minutes which indicated that nest building was underway. Sometimes a helper is on-site at nest sites, so we will watch for activity patterns during the day which indicate three birds. Otherwise, the St. Adolphe swifts have a habit of sharing lodging until incubation is well established i.e., the “third” bird from one site in the evening is actually using another site during the daytime with it’s partner. These are the gems that get figured out with multi-site simultaneous monitoring!
Fewer chimney swifts also were reported by Ken in Dauphin – 28 roosted compared to 48 which roosted on May 25. We can’t be sure that the peak roosting number has occurred as there was thunderstorm activity during Thursday evening which may have influenced the bird’s behavior.
In Selkirk, all four sites were covered by Ruby’s volunteers. Roosting totals were: Merchant Hotel = 0; Red Chimney = 7 (10 entries and 3 exits); Yellow Chimney = 0; and Tall Chimney = 49 (up from 36 on May 25).  So, the Tall Chimney numbers are still climbing.
Over in La Broquerie, David’s pair came in for the night before sunset. Many other monitors indicated that their chimney swifts also roosted in the first half of the session, some even close to the very start of the roosting hour. Perhaps with the high availability of insects in the air column, the chimney swifts had full stomachs and lots of energy reserves to hang up their feathers early…
Our fourth, and final, national monitoring night is Monday, June 2nd. It may be a very informative evening overall. At the nest sites, if you can muster an extra 15 – 20 minutes, look for entries/exits before the roosting hour. Such “daytime” use is the best indication of nest building in progress. At roost sites, we can compare data between nights to determine when the abundance of chimney swifts peaked. We should all be vigilant for those late fliers who defy the training manual and cruise about after curfew (teenagers perhaps?).
Thanks as usual to the monitors who are developing their neck muscles and exercising their patience while staring at the chimney rims! I look forward to hearing from you after Monday evening.
Happy birding, Barb Stewart

Bulletin Number 2 for 2014

The second National Monitoring Night, Sunday May 25th, was a cool night again following another rainy day. Maybe we will get out of our long underwear and rain jackets before this Blitz is over. The up and not so down details of an “interesting” evening follow…​

Ken and Jan in Dauphin had 48 swifts roosting and noted many entries after “the magic hour”. This was an increase from the 11 swifts seen on the first national monitoring night.

In St. Adolphe, the upward trend in numbers continued but mystery shrouded our evening. Rob had 1 +2 in at the SE + NE Club Amical chimneys respectively; I had 2 in at Main St.; Jacquie had 0 swifts at Brodeur Bros.; and Frank counted 2 in at the Church. Then “something” happened at the very end of the roosting hour. The Church swifts left after a mob of 8 chsw came screaming by.

About half way through the monitoring period, I saw a flock of what looked like 9 swifts over the Red River. Rob, who was a long block away, saw 8 swifts just at the end of the observation period, as they moved north past Brodeur Bros. and then to the Church. Rob came back to the Church wondering who got all the roosting birds. Nobody did. We had 10 airborne swifts and no idea of where they would overnight.​ ​Also, as we were debriefing during our “congregation” at the Church, a chsw dove into the Church chimney about 15 min. post-roosting hour and then left a short time later!

Ruby and her flock of monitors had 36 swifts roosting in the tall Selkirk chimney, up from 25 the first night. Also, there were 7 entries then 2 exits in the red chimney; 5 swifts were in the site at the end of the roosting hour which left two chimney swifts unaccounted for in a roost site.

Two issues seem certain. First, available nesting territory is not immediately claimed at the onset of the season. Perhaps the 2013 breeding pair at the St. Adolphe Church are dead or late-arriving and the 2014 migrants are trying to sort themselves out for the current nesting season.

Second, we have solid data that chimney swifts may be airborne well after the roosting hour. Therefore, in-site roosting totals may underestimate the total number of birds in the immediate area. Another challenge for the number crunchers…

Elsewhere in Manitoba, David Dawson counted 2 chimney swifts roosting at La Broquerie. Don and Roxie Reimer are still waiting for the first arrivals at the Steinbach hospital. David first discovered that this site was active during last year’s season, so we do not have historical information for the hospital chimney. There is hope though for migrants to appear this week or later in the season.

There can be new arrivals in St. Adolphe during the third week of June. These birds may be late arriving migrants from the south or re-dispersing local swifts that had arrived in May. The same thing may happen elsewhere in Manitoba. So even if sites are empty now, there is a possibility of occupation later. Any additional monitoring of “empty” sites during the third week of June would be appreciated!

Thursday, May 29th is the next target for the national blitz. I expect numbers to build in the roost sites in Selkirk and Dauphin. For other chimneys that may be nest sites, do not give up hope of seeing swifts if they have not been sighted to date. It has been a late spring and as we are at the northern periphery of the distribution range, migrants are still arriving.

The weather is improving to the point that bug smacking on the windshield is occurring at night now and those marvelous mosquitoes are starting to appear. Think of these insects as chimney swift food instead of pesky summer intruders!

I hope you all enjoy some bounty of birds on Thursday night. Another bulletin will be sent out to update you on the developments and trends. Your monitoring efforts are appreciated very much!

Cheers, Barb.

News Bulletin 1 from the MCSI

Manitoba News Bulletin for the National Monitoring Blitz Night No. 1 – May 21, 2014:
The early returns are in and there was a lot of empty air space on the chilly Wednesday evening. Matt Dedrick, who coordinates the Carman volunteers, wondered if a new subspecies was indicated: “Chaetura pelagica noseeum”! Many people would agree as no chimney swifts were seen at: two Carman sites; two Clearwater sites; Portage La Prairie; and La Broquerie.

For monitors lucky enough to spot swifts, few birds roosted for the night in the occupied chimneys. The Dauphin roost had 11 swifts and the record high count for the night was at Selkirk where 25 swifts came in.

In St. Adolphe, the five nest sites had varying activity. Empty sites = SE Club Amical and Brodeur Bros.; occupied sites = 2 swifts in at the NE Club Amical chimney; 2 swifts in Main St.; and only 1 at the Church.​

All has changed now that the cold weather system has moved along and brought the first string of clear, warm days (ok, 30 C is just hot). the bug-inspiring heat has created favourable feeding conditions and chimney swifts have been sighted during the daytime now in various locations such as Fort Whyte Alive and East Kildonan in Winnipeg.

Roosting hour sightings have picked up also since Wed. Interestingly, 4 chimney swifts were active in the Carman Memorial Hall site (entries and exits) before 2 roosted for the night on Thursday, May 22nd. Roosting birds were noted again on Friday, May 23rd.

So the daytime sightings and entry/exit behavior indicate that migrants are moving into our area and nesting territory is being established for the season. The invisible swifts seem to have disappeared.

It seems that a global threat of thunderstorms is upon us all for Sunday night, May 25th, which is National Monitoring Blitz Night No. 2. From Dauphin to La Broquerie to Portage to Winnipeg, Environment Canada has the lightning icon embedded in its forecast.

Just a reminder to all monitors that safety comes first and if there is storm activity, we will pass on chimney side viewing. If light or intermittent rain occurs, monitoring can proceed…in fact, the chimney swifts in St. Adolphe have put on amazing feeding shows at the edge of storm fronts.

All the best for your viewing pleasure Sunday night and may the swifts be winging their way to a site near you…

(Our CHSW season started with an opportunity to watch a Kingston, ON roost site over the May long weekend. Thanks to Chris Grooms for steering us to the location and to Frank Machovec who has provided a link to some “phone video” footage Rob took of the 131 swift spectacle – amazing birds!). Click here to see the video.

Looking forward to hearing from you soon, Barb.


They’re back!

The first spring sighting of 2014 has been reported! Two chimney swifts were spotted flying over St. Adolphe yesterday by Andy Courcelles.
 We hope that the cool, rainy forecast for the early part of the coming week will not be too harsh for the chimney swifts. 
It is time to watch the skies for more spring migrants.
Let’s cast our attention chimney-ward!


Some Tools for the Coming Monitoring Season!

Let’s Watch Those Chimneys!

The Chimney Swifts are working their way northward and should be visiting Manitoba soon. The Manitoba Chimney Swift Initiative has prepared survey forms and survey protocols to guide monitors in the 2014 season.

A primary focus of our efforts for 2014 will be chimney observations as part of a national effort. Monitoring is to take place during the “roost hour” on May 21, May 25, May 29, and June 2. The national four-day monitoring protocol may be seen at and the monitoring form may be obtained at

For those monitoring their sites on other dates throughout the season, please use the “MCSI monitoring protocol.” The protocol is explained at , and the associated monitoring form is at

Check the resources area of our website at  for a variety of information about monitoring.

Please email the monitoring coordinator at to volunteer or ask any questions about the monitoring program for 2014.

Now, don’t overstress those neck muscles!

A New Season Begins (soon)!

A New Season Begins (soon)!
Chimney swifts have been sighted in the southeast corner of South Dakota and eastern Minnesota. So, if we can nudge, kick, or coerce the cold weather out of our area, perhaps our Manitoba chimney swifts will arrive in the next few weeks. MCSI is focusing on two activities this year. You can check out our past  monitoring results at (
The first activity is to support the national chimney swift monitoring program where monitors across Canada will be chimney-side on the evenings of May 21, 25, 29, and June 2. The distribution and abundance of chimney swifts in Canada can be tracked through simultaneous monitoring across the country; our Manitoba data will be collated and forwarded to the national coordinator. Please contact if you are interested and available in joining this activity, plus indicate what geographic area is most convenient for you as a monitoring destination. The 2014 guidelines/monitoring protocols are similar to last year’s which can be found at:  ​We would appreciate everyone monitoring at least 1/2 hour before sunset to 1/2 hour after sunset on the specified evenings. No heroics are required if the weather is poor.​

The second MCSI activity is the creation of an inventory of roost and nest sites which need repairing/restoring, or candidate chimneys which could be re-opened (there must be historical data to show that the site once housed chimney swifts). We have received a three year Environmental Damages Fund (EDF) award to protect chimney swift habitat and we will begin to select sites for remedial work in the early fall.
The Manitoba Chimney Swift Initiative members would like to wish Frank Machovec well in his retirement from MCSI Coordinator and Steering Committee duties! Frank has served the chimney swifts, and all of us, well over many years of dedicated service. Thank you Frank! We are pleased that Frank has retained his role as webmaster so you can follow all of the Manitoba chimney swift news here, over the 2014 season.
Thanks for your interest and keep your eyes to the sky – we look forward to the first spring sightings!

Barb Stewart
St. Adolphe Monitor & MCSI Steering Committee Member
Manitoba Chimney Swift Initiative
c/o Nature Manitoba, #401 – 63 Albert Street, Winnipeg, MB R3B 1G4 — 204-943-9029