To all of the monitors involved in the 2015 National Roost Monitoring Program (NRMP) and MCSI Blitz Night: this is a BIG SHOUTOUT OF THANKS! This spring, we had approximately 56 volunteers – who devoted 284 hours of their time – to monitor 45 sites in 14 different Manitoba communities. Outstanding work everyone!
Collectively, your 2015 monitoring represents a significant increase in “effort” compared to 2014 when we had 35 monitors, who spent 79 hours monitoring 23 sites in 11 communities. By any metric you care to choose ~ the number of monitors or the number of hours contributed by each monitor or the number of sites and communities monitored ~ more people devoted more hours monitoring more sites in 2015. What made the difference? We were successful in reaching out and recruiting more personal friends to help us out this year. Also, the availability of volunteers who previously were involved with the Manitoba Breeding Bird Atlas made a huge difference in the ability to monitor more chimney swift sites.
The 2015 database for the NRMP and MCSI Blitz Night tabulates the maximum number of roosting chimney swifts at a site; the valuable but frustrating “0’s” are included.  Results reflect roosting hour observations (1 hour) made for: NRMP-1 on MAY 20; NRMP-2 on MAY 24; NRMP-3 on MAY 28 and “robust roosting hour” observations (1.5 hour; daytime use just prior to the roosting hour helped distinguish roost vs. nest sites) made for NRMP-4 on JUNE 1 (ALTERNATE DATE JUNE 2) AND MCSI BLITZ NIGHT on JUNE 6 (ALTERNATE DATE JUNE 5). Additional data for dates close to the “official” monitoring evenings are included for sites where monitors cover more than one geographic area e.g., Frank and Jacquie monitor St. Adolphe and Otterburne swifts. Results for the 2013 and 2014 NRMP are shown for comparison to 2015.
​The MCSI ROOST/NEST SITE DATABASE will be compiled and posted later this fall.( Click here for the 2007-2014 version. ) This database summarizes the maximum number of chimney swifts entering a site, so it includes a wider range of data that come from: roosting hour and daytime monitoring sessions; formal monitoring and opportunistic observations of roost/nest sites; monitoring historically used sites known to us; and new sites discovered through your deliberate efforts to follow and quest for swifts e.g., tracking birds in Winnipeg and searching for chimneys in rural areas such as Darlingford, Melita, and Souris. ​
The success of the MCSI program is based on volunteer citizen scientists. We are very grateful to include you among our supporters. Thanks again for collecting the data which enables us to better understand the biology of the birds. That knowledge about swifts, and the habitat they occupy, is the foundation for the implementation of habitat stewardship and outreach programs. Chimney swifts in Manitoba are well served by your efforts!
Let’s stay in touch as the swifts close out their 2015 season with us. Most fledging should take place in the last week of July through the first week of August. Pre-migratory redistributions can start as early as the first week of August e.g., in Dauphin. By mid-August, most of our chimney swifts will be migrating south. Your observations and monitoring reports are welcome at any time.
Barb Stewart for the MCSI Steering Committee: Christian Artuso, Ron Bazin, Neil Butchard, Lewis Cocks, Ken De Smet, Nicole Firlotte and Rob Stewart, plus our MCSI Habitat Stewardship and Outreach Coordinator, Tim Poole, and our webmaster, Frank Machovec. 


Chimney Swift Update for early July

July has arrived with sizzling heat, storms, and a record number of forest fires across the prairies. Over the last week, Manitoba has experienced blankets of smoke from Saskatchewan blazes. The unexpected bonus of the dense smoke may have been easier foraging for the swifts – even in afternoons with high temperature (>28 C), strong winds, and high humidity, insects seemed to be held to low levels in the air column. Frequent daytime sightings of roof top level feeding by swifts, swallows, and martins were seen in St. Adolphe while the smoke was present.
Backing up to May, I need to offer my apologies to Millie and Margaret in Brandon. Their NRMP-2 and NRMP-3 reports were buried, in what seemed to be an impenetrable chasm of my computer, and were not reported in previous monitoring updates. The now excavated data are: 2 swifts roosted on May 24, which was the first occupancy for 2015; and 4 swifts roosted on May 28, which was the season maximum – 8 swifts also were seen in the air at the end of the evening and their roosting destination was unknown. For the subsequent NRMP-4 and the Manitoba Blitz nights, a pair of swifts were busy nest building and they were the only birds in the chimney for the night. I hope the nesting activity in Brandon is still ongoing. On Saturday, July 4, torrential rains were widespread in the province and these events can wash nests off the interior face of chimneys.
Fortunately, all the established nests in St. Adolphe made it through the 70 mm deluge. Here is the season summary for St. Adolphe to date ~ of FIVE available nest sites, FOUR are occupied in 2015 – no chsw are using the SE Club Amical chimney. Interestingly, no late June immigrants have arrived in town this year. THREE stages of nesting were evident over TWO days this week. On July 6, the NE Club Amical and Main St. pairs were feeding brooded young (up to 6-7 days of age). On July 7, the Church pair was feeding non-brooded young (older than 6-7 days of age) and at Brodeur Bros., incubation continues. The ONE unifying theme for the breeding activity is VARIATION.
For any given season, there is no absolute synchrony to nesting. Even for a close knit community such as St. Adolphe, on a given date you can expect breeding pairs of swifts, at different sites, to be at different stages of nesting. This variation reflects the time of spring arrival, the start of nest building, and clutch size (usually 2-7 eggs are laid; incubation starts with the second last egg laid). Between-years, you will see differences in site occupancy, nesting success rates, clutch sizes, and the number of fledglings per nest site. Weather and insect availability are important factors in nesting outcomes.
Monitoring data can determine the stages of nesting as each stage is characterized by a different frequency and sequence of entries/exits. Backtrack to previous BlogSpot updates (postings on June 5, 8, and 24) for the explanations of nesting stages plus how to calculate the duration in (or partner change-up) and between visit intervals. If you have monitoring data for your nest site(s) that you would like help interpreting, please be in touch – help is only an email away.
Frank and Jacquie continue to monitor the Providence College chimneys in Otterburne. The swifts there are not faring as well as the birds in St. Adolphe. To recap, all three Providence chimneys were occupied on June 8. There were: 2 roosting entries to the chimney south of the bell tower; 2 roosting entries to the large chimney; plus entry/exit cycles which indicated nest building and 3 roosting entries to the skinny chimney. On the evening of July 5 (the night after the massive storm), no swifts roosted at the chimney south of the bell tower and at the large chimney. Only 2 entries by roosting swifts were made at the skinny chimney; further monitoring will indicate if the nesting attempt has failed.
​ Back to good news of opportunistic observations. Paul and Valorie’s June 30 posting on Manitobabirds indicated 2 westbound swifts were over the old post office in Morden. Our database has 325 Stephen St. listed as Site 1400, but no official monitoring has been done. ​We would welcome further reports about Morden swifts!
​Your July sightings and monitoring data will help us track chimney swift activity in the province throughout the summer…
All the best for your birding experiences, Barb.

Canada Day and there’s much to celebrate!

CANADA DAY – a time to celebrate our land, the bounty of natural resources it contains, and the people who devote their time and energy as environmental stewards. Your recent reports contained notable events which should be celebrated: the re-establishment of nest sites; a newly identified area of occupation; and the identification of a record number of new, active chimney swift sites.  
The “no see-um” swifts in Carman apparently morphed into stealth swifts. Characteristic chittering sounds first alerted Matt to the bird’s presence once more. Then it took a monitoring session at 0515 AM, on June 18, for Matt to confirm that a pair were established again in the small private residence in town. A third bird may be onsite also.
Confirmed daytime sightings of chimney swifts over the Fort La Reine Museum grounds, on the east side of Portage La Prairie, were made by Bob on Sunday, June 21. Mid-week, Gordon checked the chimney of Hourie House out in the early afternoon and then with Louise in the evening; both times, starlings were identified as the nesting species in the chimney. Further sleuthing is required to locate a chimney swift nest/roost sites in the Fort La Reine area.
Retirement is proving to be fulfilling for Jake. Between June 22-28, he discovered a cluster of three new sites in Fort Rouge! Pairs of chimney swifts were documented entering: 100 Roslyn Rd (Blackstone Apts; site no. 2015-14); 395 River Ave (The Biltmore; site no. 2015-15); and 94 Roslyn Rd (Leslie Ironside House; site no. 2015-16). A big thank you is sent to Jake for his determined efforts in locating these chimneys. We also appreciate David and Adolf for facilitating Jake’s contact with MCSI.
In East Kildonan, Garry discovered another site in the “hub” area around Brazier St/Henderson Hwy which is monitored by Rudolf. Garry saw a pair of swifts enter 712 Watt St ~ site no. 2015-17 ~ just before curfew on June 13. The swifts entered the chimney with only a minute to spare before the end of the roosting hour. Thank you Garry for tracking these birds for over a week then staking out this site!
At nest sites in July, incubated eggs will hatch soon. Then the breeding adults will enter the energy-demanding stage of feeding their young. ​On the morning of June 30, at the St. Adolphe Church, the breeding pair had two change-ups in ~100 minutes of monitoring. One between-visit interval was ~30 minutes and the other was ~60 minutes. The adults may be feeding brooded juveniles…more observations are required to verify hatching.
Happy Canada Day to you all! Hopefully, some enjoyable chimney swift moments will be part of your celebrations.