Update — NRMP Night 3

National Roost Monitoring Pogram-3: Thursday, May 28, 2015 Update.
Before the third night – here are more reports for NRMP-2 on May 24:
  • From Ken in Wasagaming comes news that 1 swift was flying around the Riding Mountain National Park Visitor Centre but no entries were observed; the previous night, 8 swifts were overhead.
  • In Selkirk, the monitoring squad had 1 entry in the Merchant’s Hotel; 6 swifts entered the Red Brick Chimney and 8 others disappeared in a “descent” trajectory nearby (another Harry Potter-esque moment!); 32 birds entered the Tall Stack; and 2 swifts roosted in the Yellow Brick Chimney. 
NRMP-3 Results:
  • In La Broquerie, David saw an exit from the church chimney at 8:21 PM = daytime use; it is possible that nest building is underway; a pair roosted for the night.
  • In Portage, Gord saw a larger group size of 9 swifts soaring about; 2 entered the chimney at the Women’s Jail; rain descended before the roosting hour closed.
  • In Selkirk, Ruby & Co. had 50 roosting swifts (an increase of 18 birds from NRMP-2) in the Tall Chimney and 2 in each of the Yellow and Red Brick chimneys (sounds like lyrics to a great song are embedded in those sites). 
  • In Carman, it was a frigid night for Matt who saw a couple of swifts on the wing but observed no entries at the Memorial Hall.
  • PL and Rob were skunked again at Chancellor’s Hall on the U of M campus but they reported the first sighting of Common Nighthawks. Thanks for hanging in tough there Pl and Rob – those data points of “0” are still valuable to have!
  • Other nighthawks were seen on May 28 in La Broquerie, the Kenaston area of Winnipeg (afternoon sighting by Matt), Assiniboine School area, Fort Rouge, and near St. Adolphe. Congratulations to Tim who made his first entry of 4 nighthawks on his life list! Interestingly, on May 29, Lewis had one roosting on his backyard railing (Linden Woods) at 1040 AM!
  • Nicole also had no entries at her Fleetwood Apt site but a couple of swifts were on the wing in Wolseley.
  • Tim, in Fort Rouge, saw swifts hawking in the area and 2 roosted at the Leisure Centre.
In the St. James area of Winnipeg:
  • Christian was in the high reward zone – swifts flew in the corridor around Hampton St. and a pair roosted for the night in the church chimney.
  • Bob and Valerie had their pair return to the New Silver Heights Apt.
  • Peter, Kathy, and Adolf recorded ~52 swifts entering the Assiniboine School (approximately the same as for NRMP-2); difficult viewing conditions prevented confirmation of entries into two other sites.
Thanks everyone for enduring some unpleasant conditions! It was a challenging, rainy, windy, cold, dark night for the swifts and the monitors alike. As I write this on the morning of May 30, frost has bitten the backside of many gardens throughout the province. For a second day, daytime temperatures will be at or below 12 C. Feeding conditions are not ideal for our swifts.


Moving beyond identifying which sites are active in 2015 and how they have “loaded up” with spring migrants, we now are interested in distinguishing nest sites vs. roost sites. Within the 1/2 hour of daytime viewing, we interpret exit/entry events as nest building in progress. I have monitored the cluster of 5 St. Adolphe nest sites for 8 years (2007 – 2014 inclusive). A successful nesting attempt has never occurred if the breeding pair has started nest building after June 6. Over the next week, I will be watching during the day for increased activity ~ crunch time is at hand for the 2015 breeding pairs…

All the best to you for Monday’s monitoring, Barb.

National Roost Monitoring Night 2- Things are Looking Up!

Before we get to the results of the second National Roost Monitoring Program (NRMP) evening on May 24, 2015, we have some catch-up items to share…
Additional reports for the first NRMP night, May 20th (NRMP-1), winged in:
  • Luc, in St Jean Baptiste, had 4 swifts in the church chimney
  • Ken saw 2 in the air near the Riding Mountain National Park (RMNP) Visitor Centre, Wasagaming
  • Rudolf had 4 swifts over the Northdale Shopping Centre, East Kildonan (Winnipeg)
​ After the first NRMP-1, daytime observations have been reported as migrant chimney swifts continue to arrive. Vocal swifts alerted:
  • Carolyn, in the Hampton St. area, St. James (Winnipeg) on May 21
  • Blaire, St Norbert (Winnipeg), on May 22
  • Margaret and Millie, in Brandon
  • Rudolf who saw a group of “6 swifts tearing around Wellington Crescent and Oak” on May 26

​ Sunday, May 24 was a glory day – sundrenched and warm (maybe even downright hot at 28 C south of Winnipeg). Here are the early reports

​ for NRMP-2​


  • In Carman, Rhonda saw 2 chsw but did not have entries at the Elementary School (1 had entered on NRMP-1). Matt had 0 sightings while monitoring the Memorial Hall which has been a historical, migratory roost. Disturbingly, Matt has noted unusual migration characteristics this year: no cliff swallows or night hawks have been seen near the bridge yet and few purple martins are in town. Coupled with the low number of chsw, the insectivores seem to be challenged generally this spring. News flash: 1 swift entered Memorial Hall on Monday May 25th!
  • Ken & Jan in Dauphin had a quiet night while a merlin patrolled the area near the chimney. Then, just after sunset, 19 chsw arrived for the night.​
  • In St. Adolphe, chsw came in for a few fly-around laps then roosted within 10 min of sunset – we had the same number roosting as for NRMP-1 but had different “loading of sites”: I saw 2 enter Main St.; Kathy and Rob had 2 in the NE Club (the SE Club was occupied Wed.); Jacquie and Frank report a “domestic situation” that may have resulted in 1 in the Church and 1 in Brodeur Bros.; 1 chsw was unaccounted for of the group of 7 seen in town. 
  • Gord, in Portage, saw 7 chsw flying about and 2 roosted at the Victoria Church chimney – the first entries noted for 2015.
  • David had 3 arrivals for the night at La Broquerie which also was the first occupancy noted for the season.
  • Rudolf monitored a chimney swift void – none was seen over Northdale Shopping Centre, East Kildonan (Winnipeg).
  • PL and Robert were similarly skunked on the U of Manitoba campus.
  • There was a lot action over in St. James though which was reported by David, Anna, Adolf, and Garth : 1 chsw entered the Carillon; 3 entries were seen at Kings – 1 was early at 8:20 and it is possible that an exit was made; the Assiniboine School was again the show stopper with 73-80 swifts roosting! The challenge is to count clusters of swifts e.g., 25 or 45 in a group, all trying to drop into a chimney in a short period. 
  • Elsewhere in St. James, Christian had 1 entry at the Hampton St. Church which was less than the 2 reported for NRMP-1.
  • Bob and Valerie’s count of 2 in the New Silver Heights Apts is holding steady.
  • Tim had 2 swifts roosting in the Fort Rouge Leisure Centre – up 1 from Wed.
  • Also in Fort Rouge, Quinn had 3 entries and 1 exit and a Beresford site, while Ian is waiting for a first arrival at a private home (where a few years ago, his brother came home to find a chsw flying about the basement – it had left the chimney through a gap!)
  • Swifts landed in the Wolseley neighbourhood: Nicole saw 2 swifts enter the Fleetwood Apt chimney and Colin also had 2 enter the Evanson site
​ The second night summary = migrants continue to arrive at roosts and more possible nest sites​ continue to be occupied although many pairs do not seem settled into their chimneys yet. Traditionally used swift-friendly neighbourhoods are becoming occupied.
Thursday May 28 is NRMP-3. Checking a variety of weather sites, rain and some t-storm activity is predicted during the day for Dauphin to Brandon, Carman, and Portage through the Winnnipeg, Steinbach, and Pinawa areas.
The national organizers encourage monitoring in the rain. Here is the big BUT statement: safety comes first. Do not sit out and monitor during an electrical storm. If your view of the chimney rim is compromised (dark skies or drenching, heavy rain etc.) or if you cannot monitor and reasonably use your paper datasheet (strong gusting winds etc.), enjoy a night off. The chimney swifts will have made accommodations for the weather too and we can catch up with them again on June 1 (NRMP-4). 
Happy swifting, Barb.

Things are looking up…

The Manitoba Chimney Swift Initiative is pleased to support the National Roost Monitoring Program which is organized by biologists with the Canadian Wildlife Service (Environment Canada), Quebec region. We have an update for Night No. 1 – Wed. May 20, 2015.

The backstory: In early May, sunny, warm weather enticed spring migrants which were reported in low numbers – Ken had the first sightings of 2 chsw in Dauphin on Sunday, May 3; the following night, May 4, Frank and Jacquie saw 2 in Otterburne; then, Luc reported the return of swifts in Otterburne on May 5. Then migration stalled out as a cooling trend occurred…

​The May long weekend: looooong it was, with challenging rain, sleet, and snow


Temperatures plummeted below average during the day and

​frost was widespread one night. What a challenge for aerial insectivores!

Wed. May 20th – the bottom line: a beautiful night after a sundrenched day. Monitors reported chimney swifts in many areas of the province – migrant swifts a

rrived in Manitoba and dispersed throughout Manitoba. The tally –

  • Tim in Fort Rouge (Winnipeg) had an entry in the Fort Rouge Leisure Centre chimney and ~5 other birds were seen on the wing; Quinn was positioned elsewhere in the neighbourhood and did not see any swifts.
  • David, Adolf, and Kathy in St. James (Winnipeg) saw 2 enter the Carillon and a glorious 55  roosted at Assiniboine School (up from 13 seen by Christian on Monday, May 18)
  • Valerie and Bob, also in St. James, reported 2 in at New Silver Heights Apt
  • Christian, at another St. James site, recorded 2 chimney swifts entering a Hampton St. church chimney
  • In the Wolseley neighbourhood of Winnipeg, 6 swifts were on the wing – Stephan, Meagan, and Colin saw 1 entry; Nicole and Cain saw 0 at another site; Marhsall saw 0 at a third site; unfortunately, a fourth site was found to be capped this spring
  • PL and Rob had 0 sightings at Chancellor’s Hall, U of M campus in Fort Richmond (Winnipeg)
  • Ken and Jan in Dauphin saw their roost numbers increase to 9; one of the swifts had trouble lining itself up on the opening but after several unsuccessful attempts, where it overshot the opening, the swift dropped in = a sign of a migrant who was unfamiliar with the site
  • Diann and Cam in Lac Du Bonnet discovered A NEW SITE where 1 swift entered
  • Gord in Portage noted 4 swifts were in the downtown area but they did not go into the chimney at Red River College – Victoria school. 
  • Rhonda and Matt in Carman reported 1 entry at the Elementary School and although one swift was flying about the Memorial Hall, no entries were seen.
  • Frank and Jacquie checked out Otterburne on May 21 and had 5 swifts over Providence College – 1 roosted in the large chimney and 5 roosted in the skinny chimney.
  • In St. Adolphe, 2 swifts entered each of the Main St., Church, and SE Club Amical chimneys (2 other sites were unoccupied) and 2 swifts were unaccounted for.
  • The Selkirk Squad reported 21 roosting swifts in the tall stack (a traditional roost) but no entries at 3 other sites; some monitors did not see any swifts.
  • David in La Broquerie had no sightings of swifts.
The trend: many monitors did not have sightings; many known nest sites were unoccupied; at known roost sites, there were increasing numbers of migrants; many swifts were in the air beyond curfew (at the end of the roosting hour).
What we can expect for Sunday, May 24: with the continued warm weather, insect populations should increase to provide some nourishing food as the swifts continue to move into Manitoba. Expect to see more sightings and higher counts on Sunday as migrants settle into their sites.
Happy swifting everyone!

A little change…

Hopefully this email finds you without frost, rain, and snow, and with lots of promise for returning chimney swifts. The National Roost Monitoring Program (NRMP) is due to start Wednesday May 20; it continues on May 24 and May 28.

We have a revised date for the fourth night of the NRMP. The new target is MONDAY, JUNE 1. If it is convenient for you to adjust your schedules, please shift to this date. If the revised date is not convenient for you, please monitor on Tuesday, June 2 as we first requested.
The fifth, special made-for-Manitoba night, remains on Saturday June 6.

We are looking forward to hearing from you about your swifts!

They’re back!

The first report of spring arrivals has come from Ken in Dauphin. Sunday, May 3 was the magic moment we all have waited for. It is best described in Ken’s words –

“I went for a pedal bike ride this evening passing our roost chimney, I decided to pause as sunset was approaching, heard gulls flying over high and tried to focus on them and a pair of chimney swifts came into view, circled and went down the Dauphin roost chimney right at our sunset (9:03 PM). So, they’re back.”

​Congratulations Ken for spying the returning chimney swifts! I hope many others will have first community sightings over the next few days. Keep the reports coming in as we wait for our first national monitoring night on May 20.

We have Factsheets!

The Manitoba Chimney Swift Initiative has Factsheets!

Thanks to a grant from Environment Canada’s Habitat Stewardship Program for Species at Risk (HSP), MCSI have produced a set of 3 factsheets which are now available for distribution in English and French. These highlight the continued plight of our friendly neighbourhood chimney dwellers and highlights the importance of continued conservation management. Here is a brief description of each factsheet:

Factsheet #1: ‘Chimney Swift: Manitoba’s Flying Cigar’. This describes the ecology, life-cycle, Manitoban range and conservation of the Chimney Swift. Pour la version française, cliquez ici.

Factsheet #2: ‘Are Chimney Swifts Using My Chimney?’ A pertinent question! Descriptions and illustrations tell home and business owners how they might discover if their chimney is a home for Chimney Swifts. Pour la version française, cliquez ici.

Factsheet #3: ‘Become a Chimney Swift Champion’. This gives people a taster of how they might ‘champion’ the conservation of Chimney Swifts as home and business owners and/or volunteers. We will be releasing more information about our new ‘Swift Champion’ program in the coming months, so please watch this space. Pour la version française, cliquez ici.

The factsheets are available either as paper copies or on our website. There are links to the documents on the home and resources pages of the MCSI website. We intend that these can be given to landlords, property owners, school boards, church councils, in fact anyone with a building with Chimney Swifts! Please think if there is anyone you know who might be interested.

If you would like copies to distribute in your local area, please contact our Habitat and Stewardship Outreach Coordinator, Tim Poole at mcsi.outreach@gmail.com.

PS These factsheets involved a huge effort from many people, not just MCSI Steering Committee members. Special thanks must go to Richard Cain who created the design and layout of each individual factsheet and then even created his own original illustration at the top of the 2nd sheet. Diana Teal drafted the text and Luc Blanchette translated it to French. Finally, a number of people donated photos, namely Bruce Di Labio, Christian Artuso, Ken Wainwright, Rob Stewart and Nicole Firlotte.