A Continent-wide Chimney Swift Roost Monitoring Project


Milford, MI

I came across your site while researching a strange phenomenon. Last week, at dusk here at the Proving Ground, I observed what I originally thought were bats swarming into a tall smokestack. The sounds they made were 'chittering' sounds, and they seemed to be swarming IN rather than out.

Flight characteristics are similar to bats, very erratic movements. Never landing. This has been happening for the last serveral days, right around dusk and peak mosquito time.

One of the people here called them 'swallows', but I know swallows and their flight characteristics and did not think that was correct. Several people in the building where this happens watch this event every break time. I have deduced that these must be chimney swallows.

You may be interested to know that there are too many to count. I tried sampling tonight, and based on 2%-5% samples of the entire flock, which is constantly moving - they seem to literally POUR into the chimney and do not seem to come out - I would estimate that there are 2000 to 5000 visible at peak 'flocking' time and the whole thing takes from 7:50 PM to maybe 8:20 PM.   Steve Padilla

Independence, VA

I'm still trying to determine if the birds I saw were Chimney Swifts. Just as the sun was setting in Independence, Va. while listening to a music JAM, about a hundred or so birds, first I thought they were bats, began to circle over a building across the street. The 'old-timers' in the area told me they called these "Chimney-Sweepers".

These birds circled around and around until it was too dark to see them.   Patti Rickman

Galena, KS

515 Chimney Swifts
7:59 PM to 8:11 PM.
Liberty Elem. School.
Galena, Cherokee County, Kansas (extreme se corner of Kansas).
Brick chimney.
75 F., partly cloudy, wind calm.

Lawrence Herbert

Joplin, MO

337 CHSW.
7:53 PM to 8:02 PM.
Sept. 7, 2007.
North Middle School, brick chimney.
2nd & Gray, Joplin, Jasper County (sw) MO.
Steady Rain in progress during count.

Lawrence Herbert

Conway, SC

1938 - 1959 hrs EDT
0679184, 3745025 (UTM 17N, NAD83)
Conway, SC
Residential chimney
Scattered clouds, 82deg.F, 59% humidity, wind S 2mph (gust to 6mph)

Gary Phillips

Houston, TX

Tuesday night, 9/4, we had a Swift Awareness Event at Pershing Middle School and Whole Foods on Bellaire. About 35 people turned out for the event. Mary Anne Weber made a brief presentation at Pershing. We then counted swifts at Whole Foods. We counted 404 chimney swifts entering the air shaft near Whole Foods from 7:15 - 8:00 pm (sunset was 7:38 pm). We did get some light rain. Thanks to all of you who were able to help us count! Thanks to our special guests from Texas Parks and Wildlife: Game Warden Susan Webb and Diana Foss. In addition, thanks to our co-sponsors: Houston Audubon, Nature Discovery Center, and Whole Foods!
Since 9/7-9 is the Driftwood Wildlife Association official Swift Night Out, five of us counted again on Friday 9/7 at Whole Foods. We counted 417 chimney swifts entering the air shaft from 7:13 to 8:00 pm (sunset at 7:35 pm). It did not rain on us on Friday.
I think it is interesting that in both August and September, when we counted on Tuesday and Friday, we counted essentially the same number of swifts. We have seen some variation from Tuesday to Tuesday. We do have limited data of 2 weeks where we counted twice. I'm also sure some of this is dependent on how the weather effects migration. Some of the historical swift data from Ardmore Pennsylvania showed large swings in the number of swifts over 1 or 2 nights. Pennsylvania may also be more impacted by the Fall cold fronts.
On Tuesday and Friday evenings we also noticed a group of 10-20 Common Nighthawks passing overhead.
Sunset is at 7:30 pm this Tuesday. We will meet at Whole Foods at 4004 Bellaire at 7:00 - 7:15 pm. (The swifts have started entering before sunset.) All are welcome to join us. We think the cool front will come through Tuesday. If so, it will be interesting to see how the swift numbers are impacted.  Pam Smolen

North Bennington, VT

greetings from Southern Vermont!
Tonight I averaged about 60 Swifts coming in to our Chimney at the historic Sage Street Mill
The brick stack is about 60 ft. tall and was built in the late 1800s.

A few years back after Hurricane Katrina about 150 birds did not return to us.I was told they got blown out to sea while heading south, too cold for bugs to eat so they died.  However some DID make it to the Azores.

Last year we had about 40 so some more are coming back.  I assume that the new additions are the babies from the previous year?  Anyways, the numbers are growing which is good.  Thanks for all your work!

Matthew Perry

Dallas, TX

I counted 35 Swifts entering our chimney tonight. This is a residential chimney in Garland, TX
Sandra Gail Dyess

Potsdam, NY

Gene Patraw and I observed last Fri. night, 9/7/07- 6:30 to 8:15 (dark) the chimney at the old gym building , Clarkson Univ, Potsdam NY. Saw no signs of chimney swifts. Presume they headed south? Last observed them there on 8/13/05 when we counted about 350. Didn't hear from you in 8/06. Guess they should be checked in August and not Sept in Potsdam which is about 150 mi. north of Syracuse.  Dave Heidenreich

September 8, 2007
Elkhart, Indiana
Four crews counted swifts as follows:

Church on the corner of Goshen Avenue and Middlebury Street from about 8:10 pm EDT to 8:25 pm. Sundown was about 8:00 pm. weather was overcast with some rain counted 430 swifts
Ed and Carol Burkholder

Church on the corner of Third and Lexington from 7:30 pm to 8:30 pm, overcast with some rain, sunset about 8:00 pm Counted 527 swifts going down the chimney  -  Chuck Gooding

House on the cul-de-sac north end of Morehouse Avenue, next to the church from 7:30 pm to 8:25 pm, overcast with some rain, sunset about 8:00 pm 112 swifts counted going down the chimney
Doris Stickel and David Stokely

Old Strauss Bakery building, Lexington Avenue west of West Blvd from 8:00 pm to 8:35 pm, overcast and some rain, sundown about 8:00 pm 250 swifts counted  -  Ronda Decaire

reported by Doris Stickel and David Stokely