The Major Upside and Lowdown Report

June 24, 2015 MCSI Update ~ The Major Upside and Lowdown Report: twig collections, new site discoveries, and incubation is underway!
Since our last update, for the fifth and final formal 2015 monitoring session (MCSI Blitz Night June 6 – alternate date of June 5), your efforts have led to some remarkable observations and new site discoveries. Your data have shown that roosting chimney swifts appear to be redistributing themselves from some spring roosts. At nest sites, chimney swifts have laid eggs and are incubating them now ~ a monitoring primer will follow, using the St. Adolphe flock as a template for what you may see elsewhere in the province.
Ashley had golden moments in St. Vital. On June 19, a chimney swift “landed” on a huge oak tree in her front yard for about 5 seconds. After take off, the swift circled and repeated the short-lived “touch and go” landing while a second swift circled about and chittered. On Father’s Day (June 21), the same behavior took place between 5-6 PM. Ashley was ready for a closer look: the chimney swifts “were branch bouncing, and going for the tips of the branches. What a sight to see!” The swifts were collecting twigs for nest building. Now the challenge is on to find the nearby nest site!
Paul and Valorie travelled to Darlingford and have put that community on the chimney swift map – congratulations on documenting the entries of 2 swifts into the Darlingford School Heritage Museum on June 18! This is the ninth new site identified for 2015.
The news of three more new site discoveries, for our MCSI database, arrived after a flock of observers spread out in Melita on June 22! I am sorry the names of all the observers have not winged their way in yet – we hope to thank you all in person soon. The new Melita sites are:
2015-10: Antler River Historical Society; 3 swifts entered
2015-11: Legion Memorial Hall; 3 swifts entered
2015-12: Melita and Area Health Centre; 2 swifts entered
Moving on to roost sites, we mentioned previously that the Dauphin peak seems to have occurred around June 1 with ~30 swifts, as on June 6 only 15 swifts roosted for the night. In Winnipeg, it took a week longer for numbers to peak and decline at the Assiniboine School; ~166 roosted on June 6 (~122 roosted on June 1) whereas ~80 swifts roosted on June 14 and June 17.
In review (from the June 8 BlogSpot featuring Dave Lavigne’s photo of a swift carrying a twig), during the nest building stage, a breeding pair of chimney swifts will collect 8-12 twigs per day. Using sticky salivary gland secretions, the twigs are attached to the rough interior of a nest site to form a cup shaped nest. After a week, the female starts to lay eggs (Kyle and Kyle, 2005). However, the nest cup is considerably undersized at this point so the pair continues to bring in nesting material through the incubation period (Kyle and Kyle, 2005).  Nest building in Manitoba begins shortly after the spring migrants arrive. So, there is between year variation in the date of onset, but nest building typically starts around May 22 (range is May 10 for early arrivals to June 25 for late arriving pairs)(see Stewart and Stewart 2013 – http://www.mbchimneyswift.ca/Documents/2013_BlueJay.pdf​ ). The spring arrival of the swifts was delayed by poor weather in 2015 and your monitoring data showed nest building was off to a slow start. During nest building, you will not always see the breeding pair travel together; they may enter or exit the site individually. The duration in the chimney and the between-visit interval varies considerably at 1 to 70 min and from 1 to 50 min, respectively (see Stewart and Stewart, 2010 – http://www.mbchimneyswift.ca/Documents/bluejay2010.pdf ).
On to egg laying and incubation: the Kyle’s work in Texas has shown that mating occurs inside the chimney and copulation occurs daily. Eggs are laid every second day and incubation starts with the second last egg; the clutch size varies between 2-7. Both adults share incubation duties which last 18-21 days.
In St. Adolphe, we noted clutch sizes ranging from 3 to 7 eggs. For nesting attempts between 2007-2013, the median date when incubation started was June 26 (range from June 3 to July 16 for late arriving pairs = 43 day range).
Monitoring data can be tricky to interpret during the egg laying stage. During incubation, monitoring can be downright tedious when the swifts are “tight on their eggs”. Some recently collected data can be used to explain these concepts.
On Sunday, June 21, I savoured a solstice moment and watched the Club Amical chimneys between 11:15 AM and 12:55 PM (100 minutes). No entry/exit events were seen for the SE chimney. This is what happened in the NE chimney: entry at 11:34:21; exit at 11:52:33; entry at 12:24:10; entry at 12:32:04; exit at 12:32:43; exit at 12:43:16. For the first entry/exit sequence, the duration in the chimney was about 18 minutes. The time from the exit to the subsequent entry yielded a between-visit interval of ~32 minutes. The consecutive entries and exits toward the end of the observation period indicate that the pair were out of the chimney together and the nest site was unattended.  Nest building was underway at this site on June 1, so egg laying might have started around June 10 and incubation of a large clutch of 7 would start by June 24. When I watched on June 21, the NE Club pair were likely transitioning from egg laying to incubation.
Classic incubation behaviour is seen when an entry is made and an exit follows quickly – within 30 seconds to 1 or 2 minutes; this typically occurs once per hour. Remember that the adults are sharing duties – the incoming partner takes over sitting on the eggs so the outgoing partner has a chance to forage. This explains the answer to a question I asked often in the early days – “why would a swift bother to come in to a chimney if it leaves so quickly?” –  IT’S NOT THE SAME BIRD LEAVING.  The “duration in” interval can be viewed as the “turnaround” time for partner exchange during incubation.
At the Church on Tuesday, June 23, I watched for 60 minutes between 6:40 PM and 7:40 PM. At 7:20:21 a swift entered; at 7:21:06 a swift exited the chimney. Nice – keep those eggs warm! But the tedious part is that you watch for an hour to see one entry and one exit separated by 44 seconds! Blink and you can miss all the action.
On Wednesday, June 24 in the early afternoon, I was fortunate to see another classic incubation exchange at the Main St. site; an entry took place then an exit occurred 46 seconds later. Then I shifted to watch the last site in town. The Brodeur Bros. pair left the site unattended for a 13 minute period; one swift then spent 38 minutes in the chimney before it was joined by it’s partner; one swift left the site 10 minutes later (exit, entry, entry, exit in 70 minutes of monitoring).
The bottom line for St. Adolphe this week = 4 of 5 nest sites are occupied; the breeding pairs at 2 sites (NE Club and Brodeur Bros.) are transitioning from egg laying to incubation; and the breeding pairs at 2 sites (Church and Main St.) are well established at the incubation stage.
For the days ahead: the transition from incubation to hatching is subtle – you typically will see two entry/exit cycles per hour as feeding brooded juveniles takes place; partners share brooding also, so the “entry to exit” time intervals are still for turnarounds. After 6-7 days, the youngsters can regulate their own body temperature and can be left unattended in the nest. So for feeding non-brooded juveniles (which occurs 3-4 times per hour in Manitoba), both adults may be out of the chimney – in which case the “entry to exit” intervals then return to single bird “duration in” scenarios. Fledging takes place with the first flight outside of the chimney, 28-30 days after hatching.
Confused? That is understandable. The world of nesting chimney swifts becomes simpler, after you spend some time looking at your data, while wrapping your head around what is actually going on inside the chimney. If you have any monitoring observations that need decoding, send them in as help is always available. The important thing is to ENJOY watching the chimney swifts. Document what you see and interpretation can follow.
We hope nest sites remain active through to fledging time in early August. The dynamics at roost sites will also change in August as the swifts prepare to migrate south. Until then, there is a lot of interesting chimney swift activity to experience. Your observations will be welcome!
Happy summer swifting, Barb.

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…
A. ADDITIONAL REPORTS FOR NRMP-4 (MONDAY, JUNE 1) AND SIGHTINGS FOR JUNE 2-4:
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!
B. ​RESULTS FOR THE MCSI BLITZ NIGHT (SATURDAY JUNE 6; ALTERNATE DATE JUNE 5):
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.

C. SIGHTINGS FOR JUNE 7 AND BEYOND:
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.

A REMARKABLE PHOTO OF A CHIMNEY SWIFT CARRYING A TWIG

There is an old adage “Use a picture. It is worth a thousand words”. Believing in this approach, this exquisite photograph of a chimney swift carrying a twig in it’s beak, is worth a million.
​PHOTO CREDIT: DAVE LAVIGNE​

Dave Lavigne took this incredible photograph on June 3, 2015, at approximately 2:20 PM, near St. George’s Anglican Church which is located on North Street, Goderich, ON. THANK YOU Dave for sharing this photo with us all!

The backstory: Rob and I were in downtown Goderich last June with Dave and his wife Sue. We discovered that St. George’s chimney was a roost site occupied by at least 180 chimney swifts. A smaller brick chimney in a nearby home was identified as an active site also; it was likely a nest site as the entry Rob witnessed was before the roosting hour on a clear, warm evening. Dave is now the chimney swift steward of St. George’s and after he contacted Diana Teal (our MCSI coordinator of last fall who relocated to Ontario and now manages the Ontario SwiftWatch program), this new site was listed in the Ontario database maintained by Bird Studies Canada. The only previously known roost in Goderich was at Bluewater Cleaners, 38 West Street. Unfortunately, a devastating tornado in 2011 damaged that sector of Goderich. There is now a new roof but no chimney on the building at 38 West Street, however, chimney swifts are still being observed in the area by Dave (June, 2015).
The photo: the chimney swift is carrying a short, small diameter twig in it’s beak. The twig would be used for nest building. The featured swift is a breeding adult with a nest site closeby. Dave’s highly informative photo also shows many diagnostic features of a chimney swift:
  • the body is cigar shaped (perhaps we need to find a new adjective that is more appropriate for the new non-smoking world we live in; zeppelin shaped?).
  • the wings are long. When swifts are soaring with the classic “boomerang-shaped” or “sickle-shaped” wing position, it is easy to see that the wings extend well past the end of the tail. Chimney swifts cannot get up off the ground easily due to their long wings and the configuration of their clinging-adapted feet.
  • the feet are held tightly to the body and are not obvious (giving rise to the Family designation of Apodidae – without feet). Because the hallux or rear toe faces forward to improve clinging onto rough vertical surfaces, chimney swifts cannot perch on branches or wires etc.
  • the tail feathers are very short and bristles project from the ends (one appears shiny white). The stiff bristles are pushed against a vertical surface for extra stability when a swift rests/roosts.
  • the wings are bowed – curving to the rear.
  • the trailing wing margin is intact; later in the season, as moulting occurs, you will notice gaps or discontinuities created by missing feathers.
  • the swift is sooty grey with a lighter throat patch.
Nest building in Manitoba begins shortly after the spring migrants arrive. So, there is between year variation in the date of onset, but nest building typically starts around May 22 (range is May 10 for early arrivals to June 25 for late arriving pairs)(see Stewart and Stewart 2013 –

http://www.mbchimneyswift.ca/Documents/2013_BlueJay.pdf​ ). The spring arrival of the swifts was delayed by poor weather in 2015 and your monitoring data showed nest building was off to a slow start.
Chimney swift nests are made from approximately 265 twigs which are glued together with the adult’s saliva and attached to a rough vertical surface (see Kyle and Kyle, 2005). The Kyle’s provide dimensions for nests: width = 3.5 to 4.5″; height = 1 to 1.25″; and distance from wall = 1.75 to 3″. A pair will collect and attach 8-12 twigs per day and after a week, the female starts to lay eggs (Kyle and Kyle, 2005). However, the nest cup is considerably undersized at this point so the pair continues to bring in nesting material through the incubation period (Kyle and Kyle, 2005).      
The nests are attached at a considerable distance below the chimney rim e.g., at least 10′. In St. Adolphe, trees used for nest building e.g., Manitoba Maple, Ash, and Japanese Maple, are situated within 50 m of nest sites (http://www.mbchimneyswift.ca/Documents/MCSI_artificialstructures2015.pdf).
How do you know if chimney swifts are building a nest in a chimney?  Watch the rim for an hour before the roosting hour! In addition to roosting activity, pairs of breeding chimney swifts enter and exit the site during the daytime. You will not always see the breeding pair travel together; they may enter or exit the site individually. The duration in the chimney and the between-visit interval varies considerably at 1 to 70 min and from 1 to 50 min, respectively (see Stewart and Stewart, 2010 – http://www.mbchimneyswift.ca/Documents/bluejay2010.pdf ).
  

​PHOTO CREDIT – ROB STEWART​

As you continue to watch daytime activity through early to mid-June, I hope you can visualize what the nest building chimney swifts are doing! Coming soon – egg laying and incubation…

Happy swifting, Barb Stewart for the rest of the MCSI Steering Committee – Christian Artuso, Ron Bazin, Neil Butchard, Lewis Cocks, Ken De Smet, Nicole Firlotte, Rob Stewart, our Habitat Stewardship and Outreach Coordinator Tim Poole (mcsi.outreach@gmail.com), and our webmaster Frank Machovec.

​​​

UPDATE: NATIONAL ROOST MONITORING PROGRAM (NRMP) SESSION ON MONDAY, JUNE 1, 2015

This update has a few coming and going items to start off…
Bill kindly stepped in for Ken and Jan on May 28 (NRMP-3), but saw no swifts during a miserably cold roosting hour – the temperature was 8 C and there was a brisk wind plus precipitation. Thanks Bill for toughing out some terrible monitoring conditions!
After wrestling some computer gremlins, the Lac Du Bonnet reports from Diann and Cam have landed:
  • May 24 = NRMP-2: 1 entry/1 exit then 2 roosting entries at Casey’s Inn; 1 exit from Lac Du Bonnet Physiotherapy chimney took place and 1 entry was aborted. The group size seen = 7.
  • May 28 = NRMP-3: 2 entries at Casey’s Inn; no activity at the physiotherapy site.
     
    ​ Matt has also been plagued by computer issues; some of his files have been eaten so if anyone has records of his chimney swift or natural history information for Carman, 2010, please email Matt at: ignace_v@hotmail.com
Matt noted that insectivores in Carman have been challenged recently – chsw particularly; monitoring has been plagued by poor weather conditions but the less Matt sees of the swifts, the more he monitors! On May 31, Matt “was at the Memorial Hall tonight from 2045-2210 hrs. Saw skeins of snow geese heading North..but no swifts at all.” ​He hoped that migrating swifts would follow…

​So here is how the evening of Monday, June 1 (NRMP-4) turned out for chsw monitors:
  • Diann and Cam had 3 swifts in Lac Du Bonnet, all around Casey’s Inn; 2 roosted for the night. No entry/exit activity occurred at Lac Du Bonnet physiotherapy, so the dormitory for 1 swift is unknown.
  • Ken, in Dauphin, reports that the head count for the evening was 30+. Good news that the swift survived the weather ordeal of the previous Thursday.
  • David, in La Broquerie, had a quiet night with no aerial activity until 2 swifts quickly approached and entered the Church chimney to roost.
  • In Selkirk, 4 chimneys were monitored and 3 sites were occupied. The total number of roosting swifts = 51 at the Tall Chimney; 0 at the Yellow Chimney; 1 at the Red Brick Chimney; 2 at Merchant’s Hotel.
  • Gordon went to Southport and saw 5 swifts in the air at one time; 2 swifts entered the chimney.
  • Matt in Carman got rained out​.
  • ​Margaret and Millie didn’t: more on their evening below.
  • Ken reported daytime sightings of at least 2 swifts by the big chimney in the old school museum in Melita​ and several swifts in Souris; evening monitoring was not possible. If anybody can check out these locations for active sites, we would appreciate having these two communities in the database.
  • In Winnipeg, PL and Rob got skunked again at Chancellor’s Hall​ on the U of M campus.
  • Jane is also hoping for some activity in Assiniboine Park.
  • In St James, Christian saw 1 entry at the Hampton St. Church.
  • Also in St James, Bob and Valerie counted 3 swifts entering for the night at the New Silver Heights Apt.
  • The crew of Adolf, Peter, Kathy, Jake, David had a season record high of ~122 swifts roosting at the Assiniboine School; 0 roosted at King’s; and 1 entered the Carillon chimney.
Now for some positive nest site developments – daytime activity was apparent in about 50% of the sites occupied by 2-3 swifts. Nest building is underway in many locations: 
  • At the Fort Rouge Leisure Centre, Tim and Pierre had 1 entry/exit in Fort Rouge Leisure Centre before 2 swifts came in together to roost.
  • Similarly, Nicole, Cain, and Eli at the Lenore site in Wolseley saw 1 entry/exit prior to a pair of swifts entering for the night.
  • In St. Adolphe, pairs at the NE Club Amical (Rob) and Main St. (Barb) chimneys had an entry/exit cycle before the breeding couple came in for the night. Jacquie and Roberta recorded a pair of entries at Brodeur Bros. while Frank and Lewis had 3 roosting swifts; no exits were made however, so nest building was not underway at these sites (I checked again on Thursday, June 4, over the noon hour and still no daytime activity was seen). Unfortunately, the SE Club Amical chimney was not occupied.
  • ​ The showstopper for NRMP-4 was Millie and Margaret’s Brandon site: 9 entries and 9 exits preceded the 2 roosting​ entries made by the resident pair of swifts.
For breeding chimney swifts, the frequency and sequence of entry/exit events characterizes each stage of nesting. 

There are two important time intervals which may be calculated using “the time of an entry” and “the time of an exit”. I will explain these intervals using some of Millie and Margaret’s data:

  • 21:32 entry
  • 21:33 exit
  • 21:35 entry
  • 21:37 exit
  • 21:46 entry
The first interval is called the “duration in the chimney” and is the amount of time between an entry and the next exit. For example, between the entry at 21:32 and the subsequent exit at 21:33, the swift spent 1 minute in the chimney.
The second is the “between visit interval” and is the amount of time between an exit and the next entry. For example, using the exit at 21:33 and the entry at 21:35, the between visit interval was 2 minutes.
For the 21:35 entry and 21:37 exit, the duration in the chimney was 2 minutes.
For the 21:37 exit and the 21:46 entry, the between visit interval was 9 minutes.
So we see that the time spent in the chimney was equal to or shorter (1 or 2 minutes) than the time interval between visits to the chimney (2 and 9 minutes). After nest building, we will see a different set of intervals for the egg laying/incubation stage. If you want to read more about this, head to our MCSI website’s Resources section ( http://www.mbchimneyswift.ca/resources.html ) and follow the links under primary publications – start with the 2010 Blue Jay publication.
Our monitors are a dedicated bunch, and the reports kept coming in after Monday’s session:
  • Rudolf saw 7 swifts over the Northdale Shopping Centre on June 2; both Brazier St. sites had roosting swifts – 1 in at 1010 Brazier; 2 roosted at 1030 Brazier.
  • Ken went out again on Tues. night to his Dauphin roost and saw 32 swifts enter for the night.
  • ​Matt was waiting patiently for chsw at the Carman Elementary School on June 3 – there were no sightings. Again. ​


  • ​ Our LAST organized night out for 2015 is Saturday, June 6 (alternate date is Friday, June 5). Please monitor for 1 1/2 hours in total – start an hour before sunset and view your rims until 1/2 hour after sunset. For nest sites, June 6 is the last date for getting a successful breeding attempt underway – we need to see nest building activity (daytime entries/exits)! Roosting counts may still be peaking in some locations, so it is important to monitor these sites also!

  • All the best for your viewing pleasures, Barb.​
  • TONIGHT IN SKIES NEAR YOU!

    MONDAY JUNE 1, 2015: THE MONITORING SESSION IS 1 1/2 HOURS LONG TONIGHT!

    For all of the monitors who are able to watch chimney rims and chimney swifts tonight, for the fourth National Roost Monitoring Program session (NRMP-4), this is a friendly reminder about the change to the length of the observation period.

    Please add an extra 1/2 hour of daytime viewing just prior to the roosting hour (calculated as the 1/2 hour before to 1/2 hour after sunset). You will monitor for a total of 1 1/2 hours tonight. The same observation period holds for the alternate NRMP-4 date of June 2 and the last scheduled evening on June 6.

    For example, sunset in St. Adolphe tonight is 9:28 PM. The roosting hour = 8:58 to 9:58 PM. By adding an extra 1/2 hour of daytime observations before the roosting hour, we will start monitoring our five chimneys at 8:28 PM.

    ​What is the objective of adding daytime observations? We want to distinguish nest sites vs. roost sites and this is done on the basis of chsw behavior (seen as entry/exit events). Nest sites are used by a breeding pair of swifts to raise their young; in early June, adults make daytime entries/exits as nest building is underway. Roost sites are used by swifts to rest in at night, so we typically see only entries during the roosting hour. We hope to be able to identify active nest sites now so that breeding success may be tracked over the summer…

    The last organized evening scheduled for 2015 is Saturday, June 6th. It is cottage season, soccer playoff season, time to watch Chicago whoop Tampa Bay season etc. We know that your lives are busy – please substitute June 5th as a go-to-the-chimney night if June 6 is just not an available target for you.

    The MCSI Steering Committee sends a big THANK YOU out to all of the monitors who have been chimney side from the start of the 2015 program and a WELCOME to the new monitors joining us in Fort Rouge and Steinbach tonight. Your efforts are appreciated. Thanks also to our webmaster, Frank, who posts all of your spring migration and site use data on the blog/website.

    We have another iffy weather forecast tonight with on/off rain showers and possibly electric storms in Dauphin. Keep safe while you monitor. May your heads stay dry and your swifts be plentiful (and that is aimed specifically for Matt, PL, Rob, Jane, Ian, and possibly other so far “skunked” monitors!).

    Happy monitoring, Barb for Christian, Ron, Neil, Lewis, Ken, Nicole, Rob, and Tim.