About last night…

National Roost Monitoring Program
Night 1 Highlights

Thank you to everyone who managed to get out last night and monitor swifts in your towns and neighbourhoods. We have had some great feedback from a number of you and some intriguing patterns are developing across Manitoba.

Before moving to last night, a quick catch-up is needed with some monitoring which was not included in the last email update. Luc in Saint-Jean-Baptiste is where we should begin. Luc has been counting swifts in that chimney for few years but last Saturday he was the recipient of a completely new experience. I will leave Luc to tell the story:

‘Just for the records, I might have missed some entries because I was distracted during the count by two police officers. Someone in town called the police saying there was a stranger parked in the church area with binoculars… I have been in town for only 17 years… Anyway, after letting them know who I was (driver’s licence and all), what I was doing and describing chimney swifts, their nesting habits and the MCSI monitoring program, they left, laughing.’

 Phew, good job Luc – and he had a single entry, possibly missing the second one due to distractions – there were 2 birds around earlier in the evening. On a related note though, we have factsheets available and copies of the windscreen notice if anyone should want these. Please let us know if you do.

 David returned to Assiniboine School on Tuesday after his Monday no-show and counted 93 swifts. It certainly looks like we are beyond the peak of that large roost – but then again, who knows what the week might bring.

Speaking of large roosts, Ken in Dauphin had 6 birds enter the roost last night, a very low number for that site and again below the recent peak. Interestingly he did have a couple of extra birds which roosted elsewhere, a rare occurrence in Dauphin. Maybe there will be a nesting pair up there in 2017? Only time will tell. Ken also managed to recruit some local geocachers to watch the chimney last night – a creative way of trying to recruit new volunteers!

To Portage and Gord and Janice had pretty similar results to Saturday, 4 birds in the air and 1 in the old MTS building. No birds used the Red River College chimney which had recently been modified.

In La Broquerie, David recorded use of both church chimneys, 2 in each. So the swifts are sticking with that smaller chimney giving hope that it might become a breeding site in 2017.

Frank and Jacquie are probably our most long distant travelers for monitoring driving from Winnipeg to Otterburne. They recorded use of all the Providence College chimneys with 5 birds in total spread across 3 chimneys. Barb and Rob also made a longer trek from their usual St Adolphe haunts to the wonders of Pembina Highway and the Rexall near the corner of McGillivray. Following a brief daylight entry in 2016 it was imperative to confirm use of this site in 2017 – and they did just that! Barb tells the story as:

‘Rob watched the chimney as I dropped my head to fill out the form. “One in” he yells. “You’re kidding me right?” I said. We had been joking about this scenario unfolding as it did the very first swift night out in 2007… no jokes here, we have documented use of the chimney tonight by 2 swifts!’


John once again counted 2  swifts enter the McDermot chimney, one of several he discovered in 2016. Unfortunately Jane was unable to detect a swift at the Deer Lodge site but there is a corvid nesting on a platform near the top of the chimney – possibly deterring swifts form the area? There were also no shows for Blaire in St Norbert and Justin and the Good News Fellowship team on St Mary’s. New volunteer Kelly-Anne struck lucky with 2 swifts on Academy with at least 5 in the air at one time. Mike and Michelle in St Francois Xavier were also delighted to catch 2 swifts entering the church chimney for the second time this year. Interestingly, their swifts were joined in the air for a while by a third bird who did not return for the roosting hour.


Finally, a group of 4 spread out over Osborne Village to try to crack the Chimney Swift conundrum in that area. What becomes very apparent is that there are a lot of chimneys – more than enough in this area and there are at least 12 swifts in the air. New volunteer Lynnea hit the jackpot at The Biltmore with a pair tucking in for the evening. Patricia at 424 River and Marie-Ève at the United Church were both unfortunate with lots of swift activity in the air but no entries. Tim however failed to see a swift enter his primary chimney at 411 Stradbrook but did pick up a new chimney, catching a 2 swifts disappear into 375 Stradbrook which happened to be behind him – either he has eyes in the back of his head or more likely he didn’t pay enough attention to his own chimney.


Thank you to everyone who has submitted monitoring information so far and if you have more to add please let us know.

The season seems to be flying by. There is more to come though. Our second NRMP date is Sunday 28th June. Let’s hope some of those zeros can be turned to swifts. Sundown will be at 9:24 (Winnipeg and Selkirk), 9:29 (Portage), 9:35 (Brandon) and 9:42 (Dauphin).


Happy swifting everyone!
– The MCSI Team

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The Manitoba Chimney Swift Initiative (MCSI) aims to understand the causes behind the decline in Chimney Swift populations and help reverse the trend.