Look up — look way up!

Perhaps the Friendly Giant was reminding us about the need to look way up to see the circling swifts!

The Manitoba Chimney Swift Initiative (MCSI) urges you to look up and help locate and monitor nesting and roosting sites in Manitoba during the coming season (May-September).

Volunteers are needed throughout the province, and they may choose a level of involvement based on their interest and availability:

  1. Hard core – Volunteers who will commit to monitoring a chimney for at least one hour every week throughout the summer in order to collect high quality data on breeding behaviour and breeding success.
  2. Nesters and roosters – Volunteers to monitor known roost or nest sites on at least six occasions during the roost hour (half hour before and after sunset).
  3. Rovers or dabblers – Volunteers who would like to help out on an occasional basis.  These volunteers will be used as substitutes when “hard core” volunteers are unavailable or for monitoring at suspected sites.

For all of the atlassers out there, please report any chimney swift sightings, especially from rural areas. Remember to include date, time, location, and number of birds.

So far, our project has identified active sites in Brandon, Carman, Dauphin. La Broquerie, Portage la Prairie, Selkirk, and Winnipeg.

There are historical reports of sightings in the following locations, and we would value current reports from those areas:: Altona, Balmoral, Bissett, Delta Marsh, East St. Paul, Falcon Lake, Gimli, Mafeking, Morden, Oak Hammock Marsh, Pinawa, Souris, St. Ambroise, Stonewall, Teulon, Victoria Beach, Waugh.

Last year, we received informal reports of sightings in the following locations, and we would welcome details about any new sightings in Shilo, Souris, The Pas, and Wasagaming.

This year we will complete another season of nest/roost monitoring using volunteers, and we will continue to monitor our five artificial nest structures. Other plans include a media outreach campaign to improve public awareness of swifts, encourage new volunteers, and help identify new nest/roost sites or other places visited by swifts.

Many references and forms for volunteers are available on the resources page of our website. Please take a look! There’s even a dashboard placard to identify you as a volunteer!

If you have any questions or concerns, please get in touch!

Thanks for your interest and support!

Frank Machovec
Project Coordinator, Manitoba Chimney Swift Initiative
mbchimneyswift@gmail.com – 204-798-6275

Coming soon to a chimney near you

Spring has (apparently) sprung…

Well, it won’t be long until the Chimney Swifts return to sunny Manitoba. Based on past arrivals, we should expect them  in early- to mid- May. Once the swifts join us, we are looking for volunteers to check known sites or identify new ones.

Since 2007 our project has monitored swift activity in Brandon, Carman,  Dauphin,  La Broquerie, Portage la Prairie, Saint Adolphe, Selkirk and Winnipeg. Historical records and anecdotal reports suggest that there should be many more locations to be identified.

There are a number of potential roles for volunteers depending on your location and interests. If you would like to learn more about our project, please email mbchimneyswift@gmail.com or call Frank at 204-798-6275.

Mark your calendars
for our Chimney Watch at Saint Adolphe on the evening of June 4. Bring a chair and a pair of binoculars and prepare for some chimney-gazing at the Chimney Swift Capital of Manitoba. Meet at the parking lot near the Club Amical (344 Main Street in Saint Adolphe) at 8:00 PM. There should be swifts and the chance to win a rare Chimney Swift mug!

For more information and resources about Chimney Swifts and the Manitoba Chimney Swift Initiative, check our website at www.mbchimneyswift.ca or watch this blog!

Frank Machovec


We have filed final reports with our provincial and federal grant providers, If you would like to see the reports, follow the following links: Sustainable Development Innovations Fund and Eco-Action fund.

The steering committee has met recently and is planning for the continuation of the program in 2012. We are looking for new financial sponsors, and we are following the deliberations of the Species at Risk group so that future activities will complement the species recovery strategy.

In 2012 we would like to attract more volunteers and expand our inventory of known chimney swift  site sites throughout the province. We will continue to collect and share the valuable monitoring reports from our many volunteers at nest and roost sites, and investigate means of making it easier to submit reports.

Once our plans are finalized, I’ll report back to you..

So, enjoy the snowy season and keep those neck muscles toned up for spring chimney-gazing!

Thanks for your support!

Frank Machovec
project coordinator

The close of the season

I just received a number of monitoring reports from the past saeason, and I have posted the results at http://www.mbchimneyswift.ca/Documents/monitoring_data.pdf

A summary of this year’s  chimney swift activity at Saint Adolphe is available at

I am working on the final reports for our SDIF and Eco-Action grant providers, and these reports will be posted as soon as possible.

I would like to thank all of those who reported sightings or monitored chimney swift sites during this unusual season!


A riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma

While most chimney watchers have reported their swifts as long gone, on Tuesday our Selkirk monitoring crew observed a total of eight swifts entering two of their chimneys!

If you have any current sightings, or if have some earlier reports to share, please let me know.

There are still some reports to come in, but this season we have monitored 47 sites, 29 of them in Winnipeg. 34 of the sites had fewer than four swifts at peak occupancy, six sites  had over four occupants, and seven sites had no reported occupants. Of those chimneys with swifts, several only had one reported bird or had very erratic occupancy. Once again, the highest chimney occupancy was in the Dauphin roost with a maximum of 67 and second place was a Selkirk smokestack with 48.

The seasonal summary may be viewed on our web site at  http://www.mbchimneyswift.ca/Documents/monitoring_data.pdf

Recently, we got some publicity in Steinbach’s The Carillon newspaper for our recent (and damp) Saint Adolphe chimney watch. A scan of the article is available at http://www.mbchimneyswift.ca/Documents/carillon_2011.pdf

Frank Machovec

Swifts on the move!

Our Chimney Swift numbers are certainly on the decline, and the swifts seem to have left many of their accustomed nests and roosts. The roost sites at Dauphin and Carman have been deserted, and numbers were way down at the Selkirk ‘stack on Tuesday night. Some of the other sites — St. Adoplhe and some Winnipeg sites — seem to be deserted or have very low numbers indeed. In a number of locations, this decline has been evident for well over a week.

So, does your chimney still have any swifts? If you have any reports to submit, please send them my way.

I am working on an expanded web presence for the Chimney Swift project at www.mbchimneyswift.ca
You might want to check it out. 

Thanks for all your sighting reports!

Frank M

May you live in interesting times

Well, it’s certainly been an unusual season for the chimney swift monitoring program! Wet and cool weather in the early days, followed by dry conditions and heat in latter days (not to mention extremely low mosquito populations in some areas).

So far our reports suggest “normal” (possibly a bit lower than normal) numbers at roost sites –Carman, Dauphin, Selkirk– but we have erratic reports at some other sites, notably in Winnipeg and Saint Adoplhe.

In Saint Adoplhe, with its cluster of five well-monitored sites, there is clear evidence of nest failure and chimney abandonment. At some Winnipeg sites, –St. Johns Ravenscourt and 1181 Pembina for example– we had initially activity, but have seen no activity upon recent checks. Other sites seem to have normal occupancy.We’ve had numerous reports of chimney swift flyovers, but these reports don’t always seem to correlate with known nearby chimneys.

As the season winds down, please continue to observe your sites and submit reports, even you see no entries/ exits at identified sites.

Updated monitoring results for the 2011 season may be seen at

Special thanks to those of you who braved the cold and rain for last Monday’s chimney watch in Saint Adolphe! (And I promise to dress more appropriately next time.)


Come on down!

Just a reminder about our chimney swift watching event for the evening of Monday, August 8!

There are two ways to participate:

1) Join us at 7:30 P.M. in the parking lot near Club Amical at 344 Main Street in St. Adolphe for a chance to observe chimney swifts at five local sites and take a look at our tower. There’s a map to the meeting point at http://bit.ly/ojeE9p

— or —

2) Choose your own site. Contact the project coordinator (204-798-6275 or at mbchimneyswift@gmail.com) for the location of a suitable chimney near you.

All participants in the event are eligible for door prizes, and there will be refreshments at the Saint Adolphe event.

Why not bring a lawn chair and join us!


Monitoring data continues to arrive, and we have reports from 22 active sites in Winnipeg and 18 sites in other Manitoba locations. There is verified breeding success in some areas (most notably Saint Adolphe) and indirect evidence from many others.

The summary of results is on the Nature Manitoba web site at http://www.naturemanitoba.ca/birder/monitoring_data.pdf , and I’ll be updating this information as more data is received.

I have also added maps:
Active sites in Winnipeg
Active sites in Manitoba
Location of Winnipeg sites with ID numbers (for summary data)
Location of other sites with ID numbers

Join us for some chimney gazing!

We are planning a chimney swift watching extravaganza for the evening of Monday, August 8!

There are two ways to participate:

Join us at 7:30 P.M. in the parking lot near Club Amical  at 344 Main Street in St. Adolphe for a chance to observe chimney swifts at five local sites (and take a look at our tower). There’s a map at http://bit.ly/ojeE9p

or contact  the project coordinator (204-798-6275 or at mbchimneyswift@gmail.com) for the location of a suitable chimney near you.

All participants are eligible for door prizes and there will be refreshments at the Saint Adolphe event. Bring a lawn chair and join us!

So, in the closing words of a venerable 1950’s sci-fi movie, “Watch the Skies!”

Frank M.