Merchant’s Hotel Selkirk
Possibly the only place on Earth where you might find Whoopi Goldberg sharing a place with breeding Chimney Swifts, the Merchant’s Hotel, or ‘The Merch’ to local people is part of Selkirk folklore. Over many years it has been used as a venue for filmmakers and is now a rock music venue, proving that Chimney Swifts prefer eclectic tastes in music. Dean Peterson, the new owner of the hotel was absolutely delighted to receive a plaque from MCSI. The hotel has 2 chimneys, one which was blocked by fallen masonry and a bees nest in the past but was repaired thanks to grant moneys from Environment Canada. We are delighted that The Merch are committed to retaining this important habitat for swifts and it really is fantastic to see the enthusiasm that swifts engender in Manitoba’s communities. Check out the Selkirk Record page 5 at http://selkirkrecord.ca/split_document.aspx?doc=SelkirkRecord040617.pdf
The Selkirk Birdwatching Club monitors a large group of chimneys in the Selkirk area on behalf of MCSI. Gerald Machnee and before him Ruby Tekauz have organised this group of star volunteers to monitor a total of 7 Selkirk chimneys. Each year they even seem to succeed in unearthing another new site for the database. What is astounding about this group is that they continue to monitor swifts all through the season from May until the last individuals eventually leave the city in August. This group are well deserved to receive the title of ‘Swift Champions’.
St Avila School
Late last year, MCSI gave a short presentation on Chimney Swifts to the children at St Avila. This followed the discovery of a nest in the chimney during an inspection in summer 2016. This site was previously occupied by swifts but after a few years the sightings dried up. We have now discovered that the chimney was capped for health and safety reasons and that the cap had to be removed last summer with the swifts taking occupancy during that period when the cap was off. Good for us! This is the first record in Manitoba of an capped chimney becoming reoccupied following the removal of the cap. The chimney will continue to be inspected to ensure that it remains safe for the children but for now the Pembina Trails School Division have agreed to keep the cap from the chimney.
Summer 2016 saw members of the Good News Fellowship Church on St Mary’s Road in Winnipeg become part of the Chimney Swift Initiative led by church member Justin Schell. Later in the summer, the church chimney was inspected and fixed by the church caretaker. MCSI also paid to have a pan installed around the rim to stabilise it. An inspection of the cleanout revealed that the chimney had been used over a number of years by swifts with multiple nests and a whole heap of guano blocking the access to the main part of the chimney. This is obviously a champion chimney for a champion church!
Adolf Ens and David Wiebe
Two of the original volunteers for MCSI, Adolf and David have worked tirelessly monitoring a number of chimneys in the St James area. The focus of their efforts originally began around the King’s Theatre and local apartments with occasional watches at the chimney on the Assiniboine School which was never quite as consistent a site as the others. In 2014 something strange and exciting occurred in the area as around sundown the numbers of swifts in the air appeared to be greater than in previous years. It was then that they realised that for reasons unknown, the Assiniboine School had suddenly become the largest roost site in Manitoba. Throughout the years, David and Adolf have been very important to the work of MCSI but from 2014 they have put in even greater hours throughout the season counting the swifts at the school looking for that all important zero where the chimney is no longer in use.
Ed is a local Winnipeg mason who has become a valuable source of advice on the technical side of buildings, chimney and furnace regulations and masonry in general. Ed has repaired a number of chimneys on behalf as MCSI and is also a bit of a birder at heart. We are keen to link with people in the industry just as we are keen to bring landowners into the fold with MCSI, and Ed is the first of these. Making these links might be key to restoring Chimney Swift habitat in the future.
And last but certainly not least::
MCSI Saint Adolphe monitors and steering committee members Barb and Rob Stewart were recently given the Ralph Bird Award by Nature Manitoba in recognition of their huge contribution to our understanding of Manitoba’s Chimney Swifts. See http://www.naturemanitoba.ca/news-articles/2017-nm-award-recipients. Congratulations both!