Assiniboine School Swift Night

Assiniboine School

Bit late to the party, but I thought I would share a few photos from the successful swift viewing evening from June 20th. In total 24 people attended, including the regular crowd of dedicated volunteers (David, Adolf, Beth among others). We even managed to drag some locals on a night time stroll over to watch the developing spectacle. Our counters at the main chimney estimated that 70-71 Chimney Swifts had entered the chimney (including some exiters, which was somewhat surprising). A video of the evening put the final total at 71. Great job Jacquie and Frank and the others helping them!

Here are a few photos. We will certainly be doing this again in 2017!

Watching the chimney at Assiniboine School
Swifts at the Assiniboine School

Tim Poole

Heading into the home stretch

downloadhhWe are heading into the home stretch…the end of July is in sight and the calendar is getting ready to flip over to August – our last full month with Chimney Swifts in Manitoba. It is time for a nest site update and a review of the remarkable developments made by our volunteers. Monitors continued to track nest site progress and roost site dynamics. The number of newly discovered active sites for our critical habitat registry has swollen in July. Here’s what happened…

Our last blog update focused on nest sites and how to identify hatching and feeding brooded young; there is a subtle transition from one entry/exit cycle per hour seen during incubation to two entry/exit cycles per hour for the feeding brooded young stage. On Day 6-7, juveniles can regulate their own temperatures. Then, both parents can leave the chimney to forage. The key to identifying the feeding non-brooded young stage is consecutive entries or exits.

Saturday, July 9, Day 7 at the St Adolphe Church (hatching took place on July 3); 9:50-10:50 AM:
10:15:51 entry
10:22:24 entry = two consecutive entries; the nest site was unattended from at least 9:50 AM to 10:15 AM
10:23:05 exit – one swift is in the chimney
10:32:31 entry – two swifts are in the chimney
10:32:51 exit – likely a partner exchange
10:45:40 entry – two swifts are in the chimney
10:46:05 exit – one swift was in the chimney at the end of the monitoring session

The feeding rate was 4 X per hour.

Around Day 21, the juveniles move from the bowl of the nest to the wall of the chimney. A lot of wing flapping takes place to exercise flight muscles. Eventually, mini-training flights take place up and down the chimney shaft. The adults start to draw the juveniles up to the rim of the chimney with repetitive entries and exits…fledging is the next important milestone.

Fledging occurs on Day 28-30. For the Church birds, the date range for fledging is calculated as July 30-31-Aug 1.

Calm mornings seem to be ideal for first flights outside of the chimney. Fledglings can be recognized by their intact wing margins – adults are moulting at this time of the year and have gaps or discontinuities in their trailing wing margins. Fledglings also fly lower in the air column, often with very rapid wing beats for slow air speed. Hesitant and, often, missed entries into natal chimneys are classic. There is a real skill set that needs to be developed to become proficient aerial foragers. For about a week post-fledging, the youngsters return to the chimney to rest during the day and be fed by the adults. This activity lessens and once daytime use finishes, it is time to shift back to robust roosting hour monitoring sessions to track site use before migration.

images (1)Unfortunately, there is a down side of up. Three of the five nest sites in St Adolphe failed in a rather catastrophic 2 day period. On July 15, the Brodeur Bros pair did not attend the chimney (Day 6, feeding brooded young). On July 16, the adults at both the NE Club Amical (Day 13, feeding non-brooded young) and Main St (Day 2?, possibly feeding brooded young) chimneys also stopped making daytime entries. Whether the nests were washed out by recent heavy downpours, or loosened then slipped on a time lag, or food supplies dwindled to critically low levels will be determined in the fall with a look into cleanout traps.

The up side of the down side was that local swifts re-dispersed. Helper birds came onsite at the Church July 18 -within two days of the nest failures. Helpers had been at SE Club Amical for the first week post-hatch (July 10-16). It becomes chaotic to move between all the sites in town to witness this dynamic behaviour! Hopefully, the swifts at these two sites will have positive breeding outcomes.

Now, onto the achievements of our Citizen Scientists…

On July 4, at 395 River Ave, Marshall watch 10 swifts in the air. Although some moved toward the chimney, no entries were made. Tim and Marshall did a quick Google Earth search and found 5 potential sites in the immediate area to scout out.

In St James on July 5, Adolf, Don, Jake, and Anna watched their three sites. Two swifts entered the Carillon; no activity was seen at Kings Theatre but a lot of activity took place at Assiniboine School – 70 swifts roosted for the night.

Also on July 5, the Selkirk birders were out to check their sites. The East Selkirk Hydro site was not included as no entries had been noticed for over a week.

  • Dorothy, Robert, Gerald, and James, at the Large Stack, noted 15 entries but at least 5 were in air at the end of the session when it was too dark to see the rim. Gerald noted “We are not sure if they went elsewhere or entered in the dark.”
  • Gerald and Robert counted 1 entry and 1 exit, but 0 roosting at the Small Yellow Chimney; it was too dark to see the chimney rim at end of the session, so it is not known if any of the stragglers from the Large Stack entered this site.
  • Winona was at the Merchants Hotel and saw 1 roosting entry; 6 swifts were seen in air.
  • Sharon and Carol at the Manitoba Ave site recorded 2 entry/exit cycles but 0 roosted.
  • Robert, at the Infirmary, had another busy night with 7+ entries and 6+ exits; the last entry for the evening at 9:50 PM.

Ken was scouting out a new location on July 5. In Manitou, he saw “3 swifts in the air over the centre of town & later two near the north end.” Ken suspects that multiple pairs of swifts are nesting in town.

Heading back to Winnipeg, Garry spent close to 2 hours in a neck straining session at 722 Watt St. on July 7. He was rewarded with three entry/exit cycles. Incubation or hatching? More on this site later…

After the scouting session in Manitou, Ken turned his attention to Stonewall on July 10. The tenth new site for the season was discovered during the roosting hour! Ken was expecting to see an entry at the Catholic Church but another Main St site was used. More chimneys in town are likely in use.

Gord gave us a shout from Maine on July 11 – he enjoyed seeing swifts in both Kennebunkport and Ogunquit. It’s lovely viewing swifts in any location.

Tim has landed an amazing Green Team employee for the summer. Marshall’s sightings have been reported in previous blogs but he gets a special shoutout with his discovery of a trio of new sites:

2016-11  Augustine United Church, 444 River Ave.; 2 entries, July 8
2016-12  Lancaster Apt., 411 Stradbrook Ave.; 4 entries, July 9
2016-13  Rexall Pharma Plus, 1295 Pembina Hwy, Fort Garry; entry July 14 (with Tim)

Great work this summer Marshall!

John was at one of his three 2016-discovered sites in the City Centre on July 10. At the McDermot site, 2 entry/exit cycles were made – young were being fed. There was no hidden component to the activity outside the chimney, “Had a little drama on the roof with a Merlin and 5 crows interacting which seemed to keep the swift from entering. It made 13 flybys in 16 minutes, only going into the chimney after the crows and Merlin had left.”

That wasn’t the end to John’s amazing moments…on July 15, between Fringe Fest plays, John took a lunch break to stare at a candidate chimney at 41 Princess St.  “What do you know, I had an entry and exit within ten minutes. Went back on the 17th and had 2 exits and an entry in a little more than an hour.” I suspect rim-staring behaviour would slip in nicely to the fringe milieu – well done John!

Adolf, Don, Jake, and Peter spent the evening of July 14 at the Assiniboine School roost. They saw ~4 early exits then steady entries to a maximum of 59 for the night (similar to June 28); the roosting numbers seem to be seesawing between 58 and 70 (solstice). The season long efforts of the St James monitors, who track roost numbers at the largest site is appreciated!

Garry was back at his Watt St site on July 17 to see regular exchanges every 1/2 hour. The adults were indeed feeding brooded young.

downloadOur on-the-road specialists, Frank and Jacquie, were down in Otterburne on July 18. There was a lot of action and all three chimneys on Providence College were in use: 2 swifts entered the chimney near the bell tower; 6 went in the Large Chimney – a lot of entry/exits before the roosting hour indicated feeding non-brooded with helpers onsite but 6 is an unlikely number for a nest site. The swifts were flying very low all night, making shallow exits, therefore, some events may have been missed; 4 swifts used the Skinny Chimney – with four consecutive entries to start session, many exit/entries, and four final consecutive roosting entries, a breeding pair plus 2 helpers was indicated.

Late last summer, Blaire identified a candidate chimney at the St Norbert Parish Church. Lucy checked it out during the NRMP evenings and saw nothing more than friendly neighbours. The recent good news is that Blaire had 3 confirmed entries during the roosting hour on July 19; 1 likely entry was made as she was leaving the area. This chimney needs repairing so it is now on the list of possible sites to be attended to under Tim’s stewardship activities. Thanks Blaire for moving the status of the St Norbert Parish Church onto the active site list!

Rudolf has been travelling extensively this year, but found a slot to head to various sites to check out the activity. On July 19, 7 swifts were observed around the 690 St Joseph St. site.

Early in the evening of July 20, 8 swifts were seen in the East Kildonan area; one swift was seen to enter the site at 1030 Brazier but no use was seen at the 1010 Brazier site and Curtis Hotel sites. Impending weather may have contributed to the activity level…more on that shortly.

The morning of July 20 was auspicious for a couple of reasons. Tim and Marshall stopped in at the St Francois Xavier Church. After walking the grounds for a few minutes, Marshall detected an exit from the chimney. This was the first confirmed use of the chimney – it was monitored once in 2010 and no swifts entered or exited the chimney. The St F-X chimney is also in need of repair, so it benefits from being identified as an active site.

A notable weather event unraveled on the evening of July 20. A massive storm hit Manitoba in the early evening, spawning tornadoes in the Portage area. Monitors wisely took shelter that night, but were soon back at the chimney-sides.

On July 21, Adolf and Donald checked out Assiniboine School once more and had a count of 58 +/- 5. It is extremely difficult to count clumps of swifts which drop simultaneously into a roost site!

Jake was out at his Roslyn Rd. sites on July 21 and 22. A pair was onsite at each of the 94 Roslyn Rd and 100 Roslyn Rd locations both nights.

On to July 23 and back to Garry’s Watt St site. There was crazy busy action during a 45 minute observation period when 13 entry/exits were made! A highly abundant local patch of insects was likely fueling the activity.

Paul Goossen posted an update on Manitoba Birds – Last evening (23 July) my wife and I took a drive out to Darlingford and Manitou. It didn’t take too long after arriving at the Darlingford School Heritage Museum to see a Chimney Swift exiting the chimney at 1955 h. Thirteen minutes later, two were seen flying in the vicinity of the Museum and at 2010 h and 2012 h, each swift made an entry into the chimney. About a minute after the last swift went in, both exited separately. Their behaviour suggests they have young.

In Manitou I watched a couple of chimneys along Park Avenue just off Main Street. We arrived just before 2100 h. No swifts were seen or heard after 20 minutes of observing. It maybe we didn’t watch long enough, or the chimneys are not being used. More scouting and observing is needed to find out where the swifts in Manitou are roosting and/or nesting.

Back to Selkirk updates:

July 12: Winona had very active entry and exit events at the Merchant Hotel; the high level of activity continued on July 19 suggesting a nest site has progressed to the stage of feeding non-brooded young.

July 18: Robert, at the Infirmary, had 12 entry and 12 exit events which also suggested feeding non-brooded young.

July 18: Sharon and Carol saw 4 swifts flying around their Manitoba Ave site but no entries/exits were made.

July 18: Gerald and Robert at the Yellow Brick Chimney, for a robust roosting hour session, saw 8 entry and 6 exit events – 3 swifts were inside at one time = a helper may be onsite.

July 18: Gerald and Robert also monitored the Large Stack where 17 swifts roosted for the night; the roosting count was similar to July 5 when 15 swifts roosted but 5 were still in the air at the end of the monitoring session.

Margaret and Millie, have been going the extra mile to track swifts at their nest site in Brandon. On July 14, 2 roosting entries were made but on July 18, no entries or exits were observed. Checking in again on July 24, no swifts were seen – the swifts have abandoned the nest site after an unsuccessful, short lived breeding attempt. On June 21, entries/exits at this site indicated that nest building was underway but by June 28 roosting entries only were seen. Margaret reported huge amounts of rain fell in the Brandon area and that could certainly affect positive nesting outcomes. We are fortunate to have Margaret and Millie head off to Souris now to check in on Chimney Swifts before the season ends!

Your opportunistic observations, monitoring data, and site discoveries are important inputs to the MCSI program. Through your efforts, we are making steady progress in understanding roost site dynamics and nest site success. Importantly, the distribution of Chimney Swifts in Manitoba is becoming better known. With the identification of active habitat by monitors, the stewardship aspect of MCSI activity can follow. Please keep your reports coming in and let us know about candidate chimneys requiring repair!

pokemonIt should be noted that the artificial tower in  Saint Adolphe is getting a lot of attention in recent days. It seems that the tower may not be attracting swifts, but it is attracting pocket monsters, or those looking for them. There have been more folks standing in front of that structure over the last two weeks than in its history!


Happy Swifting, Barb for the MCSI Team.



e1dd2-sunTo our monitor’s credit, new sites are still being discovered and reported. Adding to our habitat inventory, and registering his second new site of the season, John reported the use of an old warehouse chimney at 579 McDermot (City Centre area of Winnipeg). John was monitoring for over 2 straight hours to document the July 3rd activity, “This morning I went back at 10:40 AM and had the first entry at 11:23 AM and exit at 11:28. Had to wait till 12:29 PM for the second entry and 12:48 for the exit.” With an entry/exit exchange once an hour, incubation is indicated at a nest site. Excellent work John!

John also had an interesting observation – “Crows were on and off the chimney many times as I watched. They appeared to look into the chimney but I saw no indication that they went in. Do you think they are a danger to the eggs or chicks?” Chimney Swift nests usually are 10-12′ (or lower) below the rim of a chimney. It would be difficult for a perching crow to reach ‘n’ grab a snack out of the bowl of the nest. Once big birds go into a chimney, either by choice or accident, they usually don’t get out (dead pigeons etc. have been seen in the cleanout traps of many chimneys) and there may be some collateral damage to swift nests on the way to the bottom. However, birds perching on the rim prevent swifts from using the chimney on their own schedule. I have seen pigeons and starlings sit on rims for up to 15 minutes and adult swifts have been put off entering – they veered off and repeated an approach. The drive to feed young is strong, so some swifts will eventually blitz past the intruder during a kamikaze entry. The reverse holds true also – adults may be pinned inside longer than they might normally stay and can blow past a bird on the rim with a meteoric exit. I have never seen a bird of prey sit on a rim, so that may be a game changer. Raccoons inside a chimney could dislodge nests and eat eggs or young juveniles. Pruning tree branches to prevent them from overhanging the chimney opening, and putting metal flashing or a collar around a chimney, helps to keep the pesky mammals out.

Ken, a member of our MCSI steering committee, has been out in Manitou recently. We have not had scouts in this town before. We will have details soon of Ken’s impressive sighting of Chimney Swifts using a site!

Now, other new beginnings start with the hatching of eggs…

There is always something new to learn or to remember that which has been forgotten. While it is useful to use standard date ranges and behaviour activity to identify stages of nesting, the transitions may not be crisp and distinct – that is the swifts may feather (sorry, bad pun intended) the progression between stages of nesting with “iffy” – “I wonder what they are doing now?” activity.

downloadOn Sunday and Monday (July 3 and 4 respectively), I arrived at the Church and NE Club Amical chimneys to discover feeding of hatchlings was underway! WAIT A MINUTE – I thought I was leading the big hatching events by a couple of days. Back to the datasheets: during some monitoring sessions, a few incubation exchanges were evident but unattended periods also were seen. The swifts were not “tight” on their eggs. It became apparent that by using the classic “one partner exchange per hour” rule, I underestimated the onset of incubation by 2 days. Fast forward to the home computer where I pulled up a species account for Chimney Swifts on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology site:  “Incubation period: 16-21 days.”  That explained it. Do note the difference between the previously advertised, more widely accepted, range of 18-21 days.

Both pairs of swifts hatched out their eggs in just 16 days. What indicated the presence of hatchlings? It was an increase from the typical 1 entry/exit event per hour seen in incubation, to 2 entry/exit events per hour.

Take a look at the monitoring data for the Church, Sunday July 3, 1:19 – 2:24 PM:

  • 1:27:20 entry
  • 1:28:07 exit
  • 1:56:00 entry
  • 1:56:18 exit
  • 2:20:30 entry
  • 2:21:13 exit

There were intervals of ~28 and 24 minutes between visits (time from an exit to an entry), and very quick partner exchanges (time from an entry to an exit; this is also known as the “turnaround time” or “duration in” interval for single bird entry/exit sequences – more on that below).

Here is what happened at NE Club Amical, Monday July 4, 10:48 – 11:53 AM:

  • 11:01:42 entry
  • 11:02:06 exit
  • 11:17:34 entry
  • 11:19:03 exit
  • 11:49:52 entry
  • 11:50:15 exit

There were intervals of ~ 15 and 30 minutes between visits; partner exchanges took between ~30 – 90 seconds.

Once hatched, the juveniles cannot regulate their body temperature, so they are covered, or brooded, by an adult. This stage of feeding brooded young lasts 6 or 7 days (Day 1 of feeding = day of hatching).

When adults no longer brood their young, both adults can be out of the chimney foraging at the same time. At this stage of feeding non-brooded young, you will see consecutive entries or exits as the adults come and go – there is a lot of variability for the “between visit” and “duration in” intervals. Feeding rates may increase to 3-4 times per hour, or more, if a locally abundant insect patch is available.

At approximately Day 21-22, juveniles move out of the bowl of the nest and cling to the vertical wall. They start to practice flying up and down the shaft of the chimney to strengthen their flight muscles. The time soon comes to move beyond the confines of the nest site.

Fledging occurs at Day 28-30 and, for swifts, is defined as the first aerial excursion outside of the chimney.  I have seen fledging delayed until Day 32 by persistent, high winds. During the first week after fledging, the juveniles will return to the nest site often to rest and be fed by their parents. Thereafter, flight proficiency, and independent feeding skills, develops quickly and the daytime use of the chimney ends.

Elsewhere in St Adolphe, the eggs in two more nests – SE Club Amical and Brodeur Bros. – are due to hatch within several days. I am tracking those sites closely now that I have been reminded of 16 day incubation periods!

A, presumably, young pair finally arrived mid-June at the Main St site. Last week, they seemed close to settling on eggs; incubation exchanges were seen. This week, the two were mostly out of the chimney, racing about town with the characteristic “V” wing position of pair bond displays. The pair may be staking territory out for next year more than trying to settle into a serious breeding attempt this year. Time will tell.

I will provide some monitoring updates to track the progress of the breeding St Adolphe Chimney Swifts during July. The roost site dynamics are important to follow too, so we’ll keep checking in on the non-breeding portion of our Manitoba Chimney Swifts.

Happy Swifting ’til next time, Barb.

We live in interesting times…

Canada Day celebrations ushered out June and the early stages of the Chimney Swift season in Manitoba. Chimney Swift activity shifted noticeably over the past two weeks and it will continue to be dynamic in the upcoming two weeks…
Weather conditions have been unstable and challenging for insectivores. David Philips, a noted meteorologist, “…says Manitoba’s weather has gone from one extreme to the other in a “whiplash effect.” ” (

Feeding is difficult if insect abundance is low and this results from cold temperatures (12 C is the threshold for mosquito activity and, ergo, aerial spraying programs) and sustained rains which wash out aerial plankton = Chimney Swift food. Over the last two weeks, short stretches of warm, sunny days were interrupted by weekend storm events which dumped huge amounts of water in many locations of Manitoba. In the St Adolphe area, over an inch of rain fell June 12; two inches poured down on June 18, then it was followed by another inch on Father’s Day – June 19; the last monsoon event followed with yet another inch of rain over the last weekend of June. Cold fronts with lows under 10 C at night punctuated high temperature/high humidity days.

Rain and cold can bother monitors too, but we have volunteers from hearty stock. Many of you have continued to observe roost and nest sites. New habitat has been identified. Here is an update for mid- to late June:

A special shoutout goes to Gord and Janice in Portage La Prairie. Their personal initiative promoted regional interest in Chimney Swifts as they hosted a Swift Watch which drew 7 new participants out on a lovely, calm evening. During the June 15 event, at the Trinity United Church, six swifts were visible in the air and 2 roosted in the main chimney.

On June 16, David and Adolf checked out St Anne’s Church on Hampton St, in Winnipeg. Another special thank you is sent to them for taking on this special assignment. Last fall, the chimneys were repaired and it was important to know if returning swifts found the sites appropriate for continued use. The answer was YES – “Our arrival at 8:20 was well-timed as we saw 2 exits before the car door had been closed. ”

Ken went out for the evening of June 20, which was a special night. The solstice and full moon coincided. What may have been a coincidental occurrence was the rule-breaking behaviour of the Dauphin Chimney Swifts. After an extra 15 minutes of viewing past the usual end of observation period (so that was 45 minutes after sunset), the 4-6 swifts were still flying about the area “…the swifts did not want to go down the chimney!”

Also on June 20, a group gathered at Assiniboine School, in St James, to share a lovely evening of swift watching and cookie munching. The rule-breaking behaviour theme continued as small numbers of swifts drifted into the chimney starting half-way through the roosting hour. As folks packed up and left 15+ minutes after the end of viewing, birds were still flying about the chimney top. Therefore, our counts of 71 roosting swifts for the night was a minimum. Thanks to Beth and Kathy for keeping their eyes glued to the rim the night of, and Rob for following up with counting swifts on the video footage he took.

Another solstice development took place as Marshall spotted 10 Chimney Swifts swooping around a site on Balmoral St, Winnipeg. Tim checked the site out the next day and identified the Granite Curling Club as active habitat (new site 2016-6) when a swift entered 1 of the 5 chimneys on the roof. Good news for all as this building is listed by the Manitoba Historical Society.

John enjoyed the “nest building, egg laying, incubation” blog which provided the explanation for a rare sighting he made while canoeing on the Seine River at Cabana Ave on June 14. “The swifts were hovering very briefly at the top of a tree with dead branches just as explained in the blog and shown in the photo.” Timing is everything and John was rewarded for being in the right place, at the right time, while watching for the signs!

Adolf, Anna, and Robb were outside Bethel Place, at the Carter and Stafford area of Winnipeg, on the evening of June 21. Distinctive swift vocalization was picked up by Robb’s “young” ears. The group of three observers saw a group of 3 Chimney Swifts in a “2+1” arrangement.

Another June 21 report winged in from Margaret and Millie. Their Brandon site continued to house 2 swifts for the night.

In Selkirk on June 21, the birders club went out to monitor the 6 known sites:
Winona saw 1 swift flying about the East Selkirk Hydro Stack; there were 0 entries/exits;
James, Dorothy, Gerald, and Robert monitored two sites simultaneously: at the Large Stack, 15 swifts were in the air and all 15 entered; viewing the Yellow Brick chimney yielded 0 entries;
Gerald, at the Merchants Hotel, had fewer swifts in the air – 5 flew about and 1 came in for the night;
Sharon and Carol, at the Manitoba Ave site, had 2 exits as their first event (10 min. after arriving). A lot of activity continued over the extended monitoring session (98 min in all) and two swifts roosted for the night;
Robert was kept busy at the Infirmary as over 10 entries and 10 exits took place.

On June 22, Frank & Jacquie went questing swifts again. They scouted out Zhoda then did a roosting hour monitoring session at Woodridge Church. No swifts were in either community. We do value those “0” data points, so thanks for taking to the roads again.

An opportunistic glance to the sky on June 23 led Ryan, Red, and Ken to identify another new site in Souris. The Rock Shop hosted 2 swifts which entered in the morning, so a nest site is suggested. Well done gents! We connected with this news after receiving another new site update (see David’s report below from June 25), so this site was designated 2016-8.

Frank found e-bird news about a sighting in Morden on June 24. Ruth posted “I just saw two Chimney Swifts. The location is just south of the 5th St and South Railway intersection in Morden. For those familiar with Morden, I was at the Western School Division bus compound on South Railway and the birds were flying west.”

Now comes BIG news from one of our big-three roost sites. On June 25, David “…monitored the Assiniboine chimney today for an hour or so. Approx. from 11:30 to 12:30. At 11:45 3 swifts appeared and 1 entered. At 12:01 one swift exited. On 2 more occasions I saw a pair fly over the chimney and even make a bit of a dive towards it but no entry. On one occasion there were 3 swifts flying over the chimney.” On the basis of continued daytime activity, which was first seen by David in late May, Assiniboine School is now classified as a COMBINED NEST AND ROOST SITE = the first in Manitoba. Congratulations David on making the all-important daytime sightings to confirm this status!

By way of explanation, the Kyle’s (the Texan experts) do offer that a nesting pair may take up residence in a chimney that is used at night by roosting swifts. However, you never get more than one breeding pair in any given structure = only 1 nest per chimney.
Yet another new site was identified by David acting on an observation made by Jake (he is the new site magnet of our organization). There is a Portage Ave apartment block, immediately to the east of the Carillon which has a rooftop chimney used by swifts, that has a mostly hidden chimney. David staked out 1780 Portage on the evening of June 25 and saw an entry trajectory for Site No. 2016-7.

On June 27, David noted another daytime entry at Assiniboine School; this event was at 6:50 PM.

Our on-the-road-rovers, Jacquie & Frank, went back to Otterburne for the evening of June 28. There were fewer swifts in the air and more exits this time around. The observations were: Chimney Near the Bell Tower – 1 entry, 1 exit, and 0 roosting; Fat Chimney – 2 entries, 0 exits, 2 roosting; and Skinny Chimney 1 entry, 2 exits, 0 roosting.

David, Adolf, Jake, and Don were out in St James for the night on June 28. At the Assiniboine School, the number of roosting swifts had dropped down to 56; they noted an entry at the Carillon; at new site 1780 Portage, one early entry came in at 8:40 PM.

Margaret and Millie continued to track activity at their site in Brandon. On June 28, 2 swifts arrived mid-way through the roosting hour. It will be interesting to see if nesting activity ramps up or if this pair continue to stake out the territory.

In St Adolphe, pairs were at all 5 nest sites at the end of June. The onset of incubation was staggered: Church – June 19-20; NE Club – June 21-23; pairs settled at both the SE Club and Brodeur Bros. sites June 24-28; and finally, the Main St couple tucked onto their eggs June 28-29.

Two backtracking items close out the June report…

First, Jake has been continuing to check in on the sites he discovered last year. The chimney at 100 Roslyn Rd remains active: June 7 – 2 entries at 9:30; June 9 – 1 exit at 8:50 and 1 entry at 9:00 with 6 swifts in the vicinity; June 10 – 1 entry at 9:30 and 1 entry at 9:31. Unfortunately, activity was not seen at 94 Roslyn Rd on June 8 and 16.

Second, we were fortunate to have the Burrowing Owl team on Chimney Swift duty in Melita for NRMP-4. Cassidy staked out the Legion where 1 swift entered; Aidan saw 2 entries at the Museum; and Jessica recorded 3 entries at the Health Centre. We appreciate Alex, and her team, for taking precious time to help us enumerate Chimney Swifts on June 2 and June 6!

It is time to look ahead to Chimney Swift activities in July. While some birds at roost sites have dispersed – more so in Dauphin than further south in Selkirk and Assiniboine School – many will remain through to the month’s end. Eggs will hatch at nest sites – then the activity intensifies during the day as hungry mouths are filled. Send news of your swifts and we’ll keep in touch as the summer unfolds.

–Barb Stewart