Lewis Cocks Swift Champion !

Our latest Swift Champion plaque was presented recently to Lewis Cocks. Many of you will already be familiar with Lewis as a longtime supporter of Chimney Swift conservation in Manitoba. Indeed, Lewis was the closest we have to a founder of MCSI – it was his idea to do something for Chimney Swifts and he was the initial driving force in setting up what we now call the Manitoba Chimney Swift Initiative. Below Lewis answers a few questions about his involvement as a champion of Chimney Swift conservation in Manitoba.
1. What were you doing before helping to set up MCSI? 
I was able to retire in 2005 but still had an interest in policy, writing, working with others, making a difference and doing something for our feathered friends.
 
2. You were instrumental in starting MCSI back in 2006. Why Chimney Swifts? 
Chimney Swifts populations were in decline, they were urban adapted which meant they were flexible and perhaps amenable to artificial roosting and nesting structures. In essence, if you build something for them, will they come? 
 
3. What were your original intentions for MCSI and how and why did they evolve to where we are now? 
Originally our MCSI Steering Cmte was heavily focused on erecting Swift friendly structures, which didn’t attract and retain Swifts so we adapted, we stopped building stand alone structures and switched to repairing existing Swift friendly structures that were falling into disrepair. Interest in our initiative grew along with the need to better understand the breeding biology of Swifts. 
 
4. Who else was involved in those early days? 
The granting agencies all wanted to know who would be involved in any proposed activity and it was felt that the original project submission should be a blend of public and private interests. As such, Dr Jim Duncan from Manitoba Conservation, Ron Bazin from the Canadian Wildlife Service of Environment Canada, Cheryl Hemming from the City of Winnipeg Naturalist Services Branch were consulted and were integral and essential early contributors and since I was a Board Member of the Manitoba Naturalists Society ( Nature Manitoba ) we had a great cross section of quite knowledgeable and keen people. Soon after grants from the Federal and Provincial Governments came through we recruited our first of several MCSI Project Coordinators Mike Quigley who was provided office space and support in the City of Winnipeg Naturalist Services Branch Office. 
 
5. What have you learnt about Chimney Swifts since beginning MCSI? 
Chimney Swifts are amazing. They come here from the Amazon to raise their young on insects that they hover up from the air above us, within a very tight time frame, find suitable nesting sites, raise young under very demanding circumstances where the weather can be hot, cold, wet and dry and when insects can be super abundant or practically non existent.
 
6. What are your hopes for the future for Chimney Swifts in Manitoba? 
You have to be optimistic or else why do what we do. It may not be too late, but honestly, the trend is for the CS population to continue to decrease. There’s problems and opportunities here in Manitoba and throughout their home range. In the Amazon there is massive habitat destruction, there’s problems over the great distances they travel north and south including increasingly erratic weather, we’re losing most of our suitable chimneys, there are even recent reports of major declines and shifts in insect populations that are complex and just barely beginning to be understood.  
 
7. Anything to add?  
There are many very talented, brilliant and committed people who thinking and doing good things to make sure that Swifts survive and thrive and they deserve our thanks and support. 
 
As does Lewis deserve and thanks for his years contributing to our understa
nding of Chimney Swift conservation here in Manitoba. Thanks Lewis!
— Tim Poole

2017 MCSI Data added to the Website !

Thank you once more to all our volunteers who spent hours in sunshine, wind and rain collecting Chimney Swift data in 2017. The fruits of your labours can be found in two datasets which we uploaded to the MCSI website today.

The first of these is the National Roost Monitoring Program (NRMP) dataset. This dataset includes all data collected during four set evenings joining other volunteers across eastern Canada. The data collected by our volunteers has been submitted to Environment and Climate Change Canada in Quebec. We have also added the additional MCSI three night results to this dataset. It should be noted as well that the evenings of May 28 and June 9 had terrible weather, hence the low numbers of counts (and low numbers of birds where counting took place). Here is the link .

The second dataset is a summary of all chimneys monitored between 2014 and 2017 (for 2007-2014 see https://www.mbchimneyswift.com/Documents/2014_sites.pdf). The figure in the lefthand column for each year represents the largest number of birds seen entering the chimney in that year, the columns following include a note on whether we could determine if the chimney was used for nesting or just roosting, the known status of a nesting attempt and finally the date and details of the high count for that year. You can take a look at this data by clicking here.

Spreadsheets can be amended and documents can be re-uploaded to the website so please, if you have any additional data to submit please do so. Also, we have tried to be as accurate as possible when recording your data but occasional mistakes do happen when dealing with large amounts of data from multiple sources. If you spot any missing or misrepresented data please let us know and again we can amend. The important thing is for us to have the most accurate and up to date dataset possible.

Finally, thank you once more for everyone who made 2017 such a special monitoring year for the Manitoba Chimney Swift Initiative. You can see just by looking at the number of sites monitored in 2017 that this has been an absolutely phenomenal year.

By the way, we have updated our Monitoring Results page to include links to new information from the Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Manitoba. you should take a look…