Peering down the chimney…

Chimney Swift stewardship is all about reaching out to the general public and providing engaging information. When good fortune is on our side, good folks contact us at MCSI to share their experiences. Such was the case when Jeff reported in recently.

Aerial view of St Avilla School

On the morning of August 18, 2016, Jeff was dispatched by a local chimney cleaning firm, to St Avila School in Fort Richmond, Winnipeg. He had quite an unexpected and raucous reception as he peered over the chimney rim! Two breeding adult Chimney Swifts, clinging to the interior wall, voiced their considerable displeasure at having their nest site disturbed. Three young juveniles sat stuffed into a small twig nest. At approximately 21 days of age, juvenile swifts move out of the nest onto the wall of the chimney. Then they practice flying up and down the shaft of the chimney until fledging at 28-30 days of age. So, the St Avila young were at least a week away from their first flight outside the chimney when Jeff spied them.

After shooting an amazing video to document the event, Jeff prudently withdrew from the chimney. It is all to easy for folks dealing with species at risk to quietly go the “shoot, shovel, and shut up” route. MCSI is grateful that Jeff allowed the St Avila swifts to carry on undisturbed at their nest site. Click here to view the 46 second video on YouTube.

Our on-the-road specialists, Frank and Jacquie, monitored St Avila school on August 19. There was intense activity – the 2 adults had 6 feeding entry/exit cycles in the 1.5 hours preceding their nighttime roosting entries. We will continue to monitor the progress of these swifts and hope for successful fledging soon.

For history and archicture buffs, there is information about  St Avila School on the Manitoba Historical Society and Manitobe Architecture Foundation websites.

With this special shout out of THANKS to Jeff for allowing us to post his video, enjoy the rare view of Chimney Swifts inside a nest site…

–Barb Stewart


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A project to better understand the causes behind the decline in Chimney Swift populations and help reverse the trend.

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