Manitoba News Bulletin
National Monitoring Blitz Night No. 4 – June 2, 2014
The four night, national chimney swift monitoring program has ended. In Manitoba, the early results show that a record breaking number of swifts are occupying some roost sites. At the “old faithful” nest sites, breeding pairs are established now which holds the promise of new recruits to be added to the population later this summer.
Before summarizing some of the observations, we need to send a heartfelt shout-out to our many dedicated volunteers – THANKS FOR YOUR SUPPORT! With numerous monitors watching the rims – the chimney rims – our program has been a success. It is a challenge to sit at chimney sides with cold temperatures, rain, wind, and bugs but the data you have collected is valuable. With 2014 being the second year for the national program, some preliminary between-year comparisons of the abundance and distribution of chimney swifts in Canada will be possible. Now for some of our early results…
The geographical coverage has been broad and chimney swifts have been sighted over a large range in Manitoba. In the north, Ken and Jan reported that they survived the blood letting experience (the mosquito flock was robust too) in Dauphin and that their roost site had 41 swifts. Typically, the numbers peak at this time of the year, then decline somewhat as swifts disperse to locations unknown.
Out “west” in Carman, chimney swifts were documented again in two chimneys – at the Carman Memorial Hall (monitored by Matt) and the elementary school (observed by Rhonda). Greg reported a pair of swifts at the Harvest Moon Learning Centre in Clearwater. Perhaps some nesting activity will take place in these sites. News flashes from Gordon and Sandy in Portage La Prairie, and Margaret in Brandon are on their way…
On the eastern side of the province, David had his breeding pair return to the La Broquerie site for the night. Don and Roxie reported seasonal highs with 10 swifts roosting at the Steinbach hospital and 2 more were still on the wing when darkness shrouded the chimney tops.
Frank and Jacquie couldn’t time travel, so after helping with St. Adolphe on Monday night, they headed south to Otterburne on Tuesday night and documented swifts flying about Providence College. The same mysterious story line unfolded again – airborne swifts were out after curfew.
Back to Monday, in St. Adolphe nesting pairs were identified by Rob and Frank at the SE and NE Club Amical chimneys and by Jacquie at Brodeur Bros. Three swifts were noted by Lewis, Leon, and Ken at the Church and by me at Main St. Roberta had a lovely evening watching the skies but did not have any activity into our artificial tower located in the Church grounds.
The large group of Selkirk monitors, organized by Ruby, saw 46 swifts distributed between four sites. In the Large chimney, 39 swifts roosted (watched by Gerald and Carol); 1 was in the Yellow Brick chimney (seen by Robert H.); 3 were in the Red Brick chimney (monitored by Nia, Ralph, and Linda); and 3 were reported, by Ruby and Andy, to be overnighting in the Merchants Hotel. This dedicated group will monitor the sites weekly over the summer.
The Winnipeg area had good coverage. Paolo sighted chimney swifts in Fort Richmond area but none was observed entering St. Avila school; this area is know for swifts but the nighttime destinations still elude us. Nicole had a pair of swifts enter the Old Grace Hospital site – it appears that a breeding pair has claimed the chimney again.
Last, but far from least, comes news of the Assiniboine School roost. David, Adolf, Anna, and Peter had a mind boggling evening counting 110 chimney swifts fluttering, diving, dropping, and crowding their way into the brick chimney for the night! It was a spectacular, memorable sight. Why the great numbers this year when the 2013 peak numbered 8 swifts? Last year’s recruitment could have been very high (for the only time in 7 years of monitoring, three of five St. Adolphe nest sites fledged young in 2013), overwintering success could have been very good, and/or the gregarious swifts could be luring others into the site with vocalizations – the birds are very gregarious and social interaction is fundamental to their behaviour.
We do not get reports of such large roosts in Manitoba often. Ken discovered and monitored the Dauphin roost site well before MCSI activities started in 2007 (bicycling to his sweetheart’s – now wife’s – home!). In the early part of that decade, over 200 swifts used the site which Ken and Jan continue to monitor annually.
Now it is time to submit your results if they have not reached me already – any form will be fine, whatever is most convenient. You can email your observations, send them along via Canada Post (to me at: 1218 Marchand Rd., Howden, MB, R5A 1J6), or by owl courier…
For the remaining part of the 2014 chimney swift season, you can track roosting numbers and nest site activity. Your observations will be welcome anytime. Frank will continue to help me post updates and developments of the breeding activities in St. Adolphe. Also, we need a head’s up if you know of any chimney that needs repair/restoration or “intervention” to protect roosting and nesting habitat.
Thanks again for your generous support of MCSI and happy “swifting”!
Best, Barb Stewart