19 June 2015

Update after the National Monitoring Program Evenings

The formal phase of the 2015 monitoring season finished on Saturday, June 6, with a special MCSI Blitz Night. Monitors were rewarded with many interesting sightings and we all learned a lot about what it means to be a chimney swift in Manitoba. THANK YOU to everyone who made our program so successful! Many of you persevered through cold, rain, and apparently fruitless evenings of staring at a chimney rim where no swifts appeared. I cannot stress enough that data points of "0" are very informative, particularly in the context of between-year use of a chimney.

Before heading to the monitoring update, there is an erratum to declare: on the original datasheets posted on the website, I made a mistake in the return e-dress and you would have found (as Dennis did!) that the hot link would bounce. The spelling mistake has been corrected to the proper return address of "mbchimneyswift@gmail.com". Thanks to our webmaster Frank for making a fast fix! Use the corrected forms for any subsequent monitoring this year.

​Now for some news updates...


Quinn has followed the developments at a Beresford Ave site in Fort Rouge - the peak of roosting swifts came on June 1 when 4 swifts entered the chimney.

In St-Jean-Baptiste, Luc noted that 3 swifts roosted on June 1.

We welcomed Dennis as the monitor for the Steinbach Hospital on June 1; of the 5 swifts in the area, 3 roosted for the night.

Ken K., in Wasagaming, saw 4 chsw around the Riding Mountain National Park Visitor's Centre on June 2 - 2 swifts roosted for the night.

Matt, in Carman, had no sightings on June 3 and again on June 4.

​EXCITING DEVELOPMENTS WERE REPORTED FOR SOURIS. In early June, Ken De Smet spotted chsw in town. This prompted Cal, Colin, and Gillian to check things out on June 4 and we are glad they did. Twelve chsw were flying about Souris and by the end of the roosting hour, 4 new active sites were identified! Cal Cuthbert's "manitobabirds" posting summarizes the sleuthing: 

This evening (June 4) Colin Blyth, Gillian Richards and myself drove out to the town of Souris to check out the Chimney Swifts reported earlier in the week by Ken DeSmet. We were not disappointed as the most we saw at any one time was 12. We arrived about 19:40 and watched till 22:05 when the last of the swifts were seen. While swift sightings in Souris are not new actually seeing birds dropping into chimneys would be so we were on a mission. The following is a quick breakdown of our findings:

The Uptown Lounge & Restaurant on 1st St. S & 5th Av W - 4 seen dropping into the large chimney
The Chocolate Shop Cafe on 6th Av W - 2 seen dropping into the E side chimney (smallish one) while at least one dropped into one of the chimneys on the W side of the building.
The residential white house #80 on 5th Av W had at least one drop in.
A few "almost entries" were seen at a nearby residence but no actual drop ins noted.     

Any additional monitoring reports for these, and other newly discovered Souris sites, would be welcome over the summer!


1. Rudolf was kept busy in East Kildonan, Winnipeg, watching up to 17 swifts. It is a feat to monitor 3 chimneys simultaneously, but Rudolf documented activity at the Curtis Hotel = our fourth new site of the season, 1010 Brazier, and 1030 Brazier. Many thanks Rudolf for your efforts in discovering all three of these active chimneys for us during the 2014-2015 seasons!

2. Christian had a similar wild ride while watching the Hampton St. church, in St. James, where 7 swifts entered each of two sides of the chimney (a new revelation!).

3. Bob and Valerie, at New Silver Heights in St. James, had a pair enter late in the daytime period (separated by a couple of minutes); ~forty minutes later, one entry and a subsequent quick exit suggested an "unwelcome" roosting attempt was made by a third swift.

4. David, Kathy, Jake and 2 friends saw 166 swifts enter the Assiniboine School = a new record and 2015 season high; migration/local dispersal had not peaked yet. On June 5, mid-day, entry/exit activity at the old Kings Theatre = a nest site is in progress.

5. PL and Rob got skunked AGAIN at Chancellor's U of M. They had a consistent "no-show" season.

6. In Wolseley, getting skunked was also trending - Meg saw no swifts on June 6 (same as for June 2). 

7. Jane also is a member of the unfortunate skunk club - no swifts have appeared near the Assiniboine Conservatory this season.

8. Back out west in Carman, Matt still saw no swifts but his consolation came with the sighting of one nighthawk and a flock of cedar waxwings.

9. Interestingly, Quinn had no action at his Beresford Ave, Fort Rouge site, which had 4 swifts roosting for the night on June 1 (NRMP-4). We are not sure if this represents a short term change of location or if the site has been abandoned. Further monitoring will clarify the situation.

10. At another Fort Rouge site, Pierre and Tim saw 2 swifts enter the Leisure Centre, however, 5 swifts were seen in the area feeding on a "bountiful supply of mosquitoes". Ah, the monitoring challenges increase.

11. On to good developments - out west in Brandon, Margaret and Millie, saw one exit and four entry/exit cycles before 2 swifts roosted for the night; a well established pair of swifts were nest building.

12. To the east, David in La Broquerie saw a classic event - a pair of swifts approached the chimney rim and one dropped in as the second swift flew by - it returned several minutes later; 2 exits followed; and then 2 roosting entries were made at this active nest site.

13. Closeby in Steinbach, Dennis saw 3 swifts and 2 of them roosted at the hospital chimney.

14. At our southernmost nest site, St-Jean-Baptiste, Luc's observations indicated nest building was underway - there was a daytime exit and a pair of swifts roosted for the night. 

15. In St. Adolphe, pairs of swifts were nest building at the NE Club Amical, Church, and Main St. chimneys; the Brodeur Bros. site was used by a pair roosting for the night; the SE Club Amical chimney was not used at all - if a pair arrives at this site, timing issues will result in an unsuccessful nesting attempt.

16. Ruby and the Selkirk squad reported: 52 roosting swifts at the Tall Chimney; 2 entries and 2 exits (0 roosting) at the Yellow Chimney; 2 entries for the night at the Infirmary Site; and 2 of the 5 swifts seen near the Merchant's Hotel roosted. The Red Brick Chimney apparently has been capped.

17. Last but not least, at our northernmost known roost site in Dauphin, Ken noted 15 entries of swifts during the roosting hour; numbers peaked at this site about June 1.


For the 2015 breeding season, Matt had to declare Carman a swift-free zone on June 8. The third site to be monitored was not active and no swifts had been seen nor heard during the day. Unfortunately, Rhonda had similar experiences. Why have the swifts not returned to Carman in 2015? That is an easy question to ask but a hard one to answer. There are many factors to consider - production at last summer's nest sites, overwintering success, migratory mortality, spring weather and insect availability...

Over and above being regular St. Adolphe monitors, Jacquie and Frank monitor the 3 chimneys at Providence College, Otterburne. On June 8, they saw: 2 swifts roost at the Chimney South of the Bell Tower; 2 swifts enter the SW Large Chimney for the night; and daytime entry/exit cycles at the SE Skinny Chimney before 3 swifts roosted - a nest site with a possible helper is in progress.
Nest building finally got underway at Brodeur Bros. in St. Adolphe - daytime entry/exit events were observed on June 9.

New opportunistic sightings came in: Kristin reported nightly chsw flying in the vicinity of the St. Joseph site in St. Boniface; Jeff saw 2 swifts over Ashburn St. north of Polo Park; a pair of swifts finally has arrived at the St. Norbert Behavioural Health Foundation - Blaire noticed the first occupancy of the season occurred on June 14.

On June 10, Gordon saw 4 swifts flying about and observed 1 entry at the old Duffield and Duffield site in Portage. Gordon has done a remarkable job of single-handedly monitoring all of the Portage La Prairie sites as well as travelling to Southport this year.

​ THE BOTTOM LINE: The payoff for the special made for Manitoba Blitz Night was huge. A new site was discovered, a major increase in activity was recorded at the Assiniboine School roost, nest building activity was verified for some sites, and lack of occupancy was confirmed for others. Again, THANK YOU for all of your monitoring reports. Your sore necks, mosquitoe bites, and boredom fighting techniques have all contributed to DATA. Those numbers, along with your observations, are the currency with which we work to understand the biology of chimney swifts in Manitoba. From that foundation, habitat stewardship and outreach programs can be implemented to protect habitat and inform people about our chimney swifts.

Databases will be posted on the website as they are updated - that job time-shares with field work - and Frank will notify you when they are available. Over the summer, I will provide progress reports about the breeding flock in St. Adolphe and other submitted monitoring results. Let's stay in touch over the summer!

All the best in birding, Barb for the MCSI team.

No comments: