The end is fast approaching! Ok, not quite that end but we are almost at a point where the chattering will cease, the skies above will empty of our ‘flying cigars’, temperatures will drop and there will be an 8 month hiatus in cases of severe neck strain across Manitoba. Yes, that’s right, the swifts will be gone and an empty void will fill our lives.
For most of us the fall migration of Chimney Swifts is the time to take a well-earned rest. For some of us the real work will begin as the last swift makes its first steps across forest, lake, sea and prairie to the sun-filled uplands of South America. Why might this be? Firstly, to protect the Chimney Swift nests we are unable to access chimneys for cleaning and repair until the 1st September. By having a range of dates where activities are restricted around the chimney of a building, we can protect the nests and broods as well as prevent any disturbance to roosting birds. We are thus hoping to have a few repair projects this fall, with more to follow at a later date.
Secondly, we are hoping to launch a new scheme in the back of this year called ‘Swift Champions’. A Swift Champion might refer to a building owner or even individual or groups of volunteers. The criteria we laid out for this in the 3rd of our factsheets but is summarized below:
• Limit chimney closures e.g. capping and lining
• Clean your chimney regularly
• Repair rather than demolish your chimney
• Prevent access to a lined chimney by capping it
• Refrain from using your heating system from mid-May to late August
• Keep cleanout trap closed
• Avoid renovating roof from mid-May to the end of August
• Manage noise by closing the damper tightly and packing insulation inside
• Seal off access within the building during the breeding season
• Avoid over-pruning trees or large shrubs on your property
• Advocate wetland protection
• Monitor chimneys on your property
• Volunteer to monitor individual chimneys on other properties
• Volunteer to monitor groups of chimneys in your area
• Assess chimneys in your area both for Chimney Swift potential and for any damage
• Take part in the National Roost Monitoring Scheme
• Allow MCSI volunteers access to monitor Chimney Swifts on your property
• Allow MCSI volunteers access to the cleanout trap on your property
We plan to score candidates against this criteria. Each Swift Champion will be awarded with a plaque of an image designed by local designer Richard Cain. As volunteers for the Manitoba Chimney Swift Initiative we need your help with this process by nominating suitable candidates for the ‘Swift Champion’ program. If you have any ideal candidates, whether it is the owners and managers of buildings you are involved in monitoring or whether it is the work of exceptional volunteers in your area, please let us know.
We have another important matter for anyone still plugging away monitoring for a few more weeks. Please can you pay close attention to the state of the chimney you are monitoring? It is clear that there are a few which are in need of some repairs. There will be a new blog post soon, but for example see this photo of a chimney in Winnipeg which has records of use by swifts in the not-too-distant past. The cracks around the bricks are where the mortar has begun to crumble due to erosion, probably caused by the slightly chilly winters we can experience here in Manitoba. If you see any signs of this types of damage or any other potential damage please let us know.
You can find out more information by contacting our Habitat Stewardship and Outreach Coordinator Tim Poole on email@example.com or 204-943-9029.