We at MCSI believe it is important to keep our volunteers and supporters informed in relation to the latest research and information from elsewhere in the Chimney Swift (and wider swift) world. Here are a couple of interesting tidbits that have come to our attention recently.
We begin around a slightly older story from 2012 that came up again in recent conversation – and if you haven’t seen it yet is worth the look. Soil scientists can find out about the history of an area by studying the structures and chemistry of soil taken from a borehole. In the same way, a biologist can learn a lot about Chimney Swifts from studying guano (or swift poop) remaining in the bottom of a chimney. In one particular study from Ontario (dated 2012), we learn about changes in diet over time linked to the spread of DDE in the wider environment. It appeared that the number of beetles in the diet of Chimney Swifts declined as levels of DDE (a chemical that comes from the pesticide DDT) increased. Beetles were replaced in the diet of swifts by less nutritious ‘true bugs’. There is also an interesting comment about the need for conserving chimney habitats in the final paragraph – we certainly support this view! If you haven’t seen this story before then please look at http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2012/04/clues-species-decline-buried-pile-bird-excrement.
This segues nicely into some news from London Ontario. We are delighted to share a few articles from Winifred Wake. Winifred has long provided MCSI with advice and assistance and carries a huge wealth of experience. She has published a couple of papers, one in The Cardinal and the other in Ontario Birds and we are delighted to have permission to publish these on our resources page. The Cardinal article analyses chimney loss in London, painting a similar picture to that MCSI published in the Blue Jay. You can read this excellent piece at https://www.mbchimneyswift.com/Documents/Wake2016_cardinal.pdf. The piece in Ontario Birds provides an overview of conservation efforts in London between 2004 and 2015. This is extremely relevant to us here in Manitoba as so many of the issues do overlap and this exchange of experiences going forward will only benefit each organisation as we strive to conserve this species. You can read the piece at
Finally, this segues nicely into news from CBC Manitoba! Winifred was the rehab specialist responsible for the final preparation and release of the Manitoba Chimney Swift chicks (take a look here). These birds were released around a roost in London Ontario. A neat segue then as we move onto a nice profile of Tiffany Lui, the Manitoban rehabber who painstakingly cared for the chicks here in Manitoba. You can read more about Tiffany at