These are exciting times in which we live. Especially when we make connections with chimney swifts. Since the beginning of August, chimney swift sightings from far and wide were reported (some for earlier in the season); fledged young were identified on the wing; recent counts at well monitored roost sites indicated that migration was underway; and vigilant monitors reported newly discovered chimney swift nest sites.

Winnipeg sightings
have been robust. Beyond site monitoring, chimney swifts were seen flying over East Kildonan, Norwood Flats, and River Heights (Rudolf); at Assiniboine Park (Ryan; Bill); St. James (Carolyn, Christian, David); and Riverview (Vere). In Lac du Bonnet, chimney swifts flew about Casey’s Inn (Peter, Sharon, Diann, Colleen, Anita). In the townsite of Wasagaming, chimney swifts were flying in the vicinity of McTavish’s Lodge (Cal, Ken).

Juvenile sightings in August included the East Kildonan (Rudolf), St. James (Christian), and St Norbert areas of Winnipeg (Barb), and St. Adolphe (Barb).

Daytime nest site activity in St. Adolphe has concluded – there have been no daytime entries/exits as of August 17; the local juveniles are now flight worthy for a day of aerial foraging. The Brodeur Bros site swifts fledged July 30-31 and the NE Club Amical juveniles made a supermoon appearance around Monday, August 11. In August, the SE Club Amical activity was on and off and on and off and, well, generally defied categorization; the nesting attempt likely was not successful in the end (I cannot access the chimney cleanout trap which is sealed behind a wall). The SE and NE Club Amical chimneys were occupied for the night of August 16. Three chimney swifts roosted at Brodeur Bros. on August 14 but none entered on August 20. The local chimney swifts are on the move…

Declining roosting hour counts at other sites also indicated that migration was underway. There can be a local redistribution of chimney swifts between nest and larger roost sites in a premigratory phase. Then the southern exodus begins.

The largest roost site in Manitoba this season was at Assiniboine School, Winnipeg, monitored by team leader David, Adolf, Anna, Peter, and various family members/interested individuals. The season peak was 110 chimney swifts on June 2. Counts last month were 75-85 on July 24 and 72 on July 29. This month’s roosting totals were 56 on August 4 and 41 on August 11. So, there is a trend to declining numbers of roosting chimney swifts at this site. It will be interesting to watch how the numbers change = a gradual withdrawal or a mass exodus or…? Time will tell.

Up north in Dauphin, Ken and Jan saw 26 swifts enter their site August 10; 27 were counted by another observer on August 15. These numbers are slightly reduced from the 30 swifts seen entering on July 22, but much lower than the peak count of 48 swifts on May 28.

The most exciting news that winged in this month was the discovery of 4 new nest sites for our provincial inventory – interestingly, the sites were all identified within days of each other. A Manitoba Breeding Bird Atlas monitor confirmed roosting hour entries at the St. Norbert Behavioural Health Foundation (August 12/13); mid-day August 14, daytime flying behaviour over the building, which involved juveniles, suggested a nest site was successful. Peter had a fortuitous daytime observation of a chimney swift entry/exit at Chancellor Hall on U of Manitoba campus (August 12) – gleaned from the fifth floor of the adjacent library. Carolyn, in St James, had a 5-6 year old mystery (just where do those chimney swifts go?) resolve when, after sunset, she spied chimney swifts dropping into the small chimney at the rear of St. Anne’s Catholic Church (August 16); observations made by David and Christian the next evening, ahead of the roosting hour, confirmed a nest site. Last but not least, Crystal contacted us with news that a nest was observed in her St. James chimney. We are fortunate that the cleanout trap can be inspected in September to estimate the number of fledglings from the nesting attempt.

​Many thanks to all of you who have taken the time to connect with the skies and look for chimney swift activity. Nature reveals itself to those who are patient enough to wait for the signs. We have been rewarded with ​many new, important developments.

The last bulletin for 2014 will follow in September. Enjoy these last days of chimney swift viewing for the current season!

Happy birding, Barb.