A Nation-wide Chimney Swift Roost Monitoring Project


Powell, OH

Not the numbers of astounding counts of by gone years, but tonight at Sells Middle School in Dublin Ohio (161/Rt 33 just east of 270) was the best of the 2008 season. I would imagine the numbers will continue to increase for the next couple weeks. I estimated about 750 chimney swifts give or take.  20 -25 birders and now new birders enjoyed the awesome evening and spectacle. The first bird went in at 7:20 pm and last went in about 8:20 pm ET.

Between 7:20 and 8:05 pm about 40 birds went in the chimney then the stream of birds descended. From 8:05 to 8:18 pm about 700 birds streamed in. From 8:18 to 8:20 pm another 8 to 10 birds went in. The light by the little more than crescent moon gave a nice back light to the chimney. About 7:15 pm I could see a stream of nighthawks to the south heading east. With the school building in the way, I could only see about 8 birds above the roof.  Definitely a flock on the move... As with a couple nights ago, a low flying bat was chased away by a couple swifts when it entered the area where the large swift flock was tightening their counter clockwise flight pattern.

Try to head out before 7:30 pm and watch the large chimneys in your areas.  It really is an interesting spectacle to observe.

Larry & Elaine Smith of Hilliard Ohio emailed me last night to say that the activity is high at the Galena United Methodist Church. "We got a pizza and some soda and parked there in the school bus lot to the east like we were at an old timey drive-in theatre. The show was truly spectacular - the most amazing thing I have seen outdoors in a long time! I was enjoying the beauty of it too much to try getting a count, but at their peak the swift density was such that I would estimate there were many more than 1,300 birds
swirling overhead! Unfortunately, we were the only people there to see it (except for occasional strolling townsfolk, probably jaded from regular exposure, who gave the birds only brief glances).

It was exciting to think that the swift show was no doubt going on in Dublin simultaneously! When we arrived at 7:33 pm, there were already maybe 3-4 dozen birds in the air. After countless apparently aborted attempts, the first swift actually dropped into the chimney at 8:03 pm, and they were all inside by 8:20 pm (which happened to coincide with the time that the first katydids began calling . . . wonder if the two species are triggered by the same light intensity level??). What an amazing show - I am speechless!
Something every lover of nature should witness at least once."

Darlene Sillick

Monaca, PA

Our family of Swifts left here about Aug 22, give or take a few days.  Our usual three birds showed up in the spring, and five headed south, from my house. Monaca, Pa has a lot of old chimneys, and I estimate around a hundred swifts staying here during the summer. Thank you for asking.

George Robbie

Baltimore, MD

Location: The Carolina Chimney
Observation date: 9/8/08
Notes: ASNO
Chimney Swift 700

I got back from work around 7 pm, already swifts were gathering in area by tall apartment buildings. Probably starting to "circle" around 7:20. Definitely diving into chimney by 7:30 pm; only about a dozen left outside roost by 7:45 pm.

I live just north of Johns Hopkins campus and had been seeing large numbers (hundreds) of swifts in the evenings, but could not see where they were roosting. Today I found at least one of the area's roosts.
There is an uncapped chimney not visible from the street behind The Carolina apartment building (108-114 West University Pkwy. Between  Chimney Swifts began accumulating in the area and other nearby apartments around 7 pm. At 7:28 I estimated there were about 200-300 flying in the sky. Then I found the roost, and counted about 200 swifts diving into the Chimney in about a minute, and eventually upped my guestimate of the flock to 700. There could be other roosts in the area as well. The show was just about over by 7:45 pm.

I don't enter my sightings into eBird frequently enough, but checking my records last year from 4,5,6 October 2007, I reported 1000, 400, 3 swifts each day respectively.

Dan Lebbin

Wichita, KS

Number of swifts counted: 45
* Time 7:44-8:03 p.m.
* Date September 10, 2008
* Location Wichita State University, Wilner Auditorium
* Broad description of the site: University campus in an urban setting

*Weather conditions may also be reported. Cloudy, humid and 73 degrees.

Cheryl Miller

Baltimore, MD

Number of swifts counted: 50
* Time 7:00 pm
* Date 9/10/08
* Location: at the maintenance yard, Druid Hill Park, 3100 East Drive, Baltimore MD 21217
* Broad description of the site, e.g. school, warehouse, residence, Chimney Swift Tower, etc.: Large Historic brick Chimney, 30 feet tall, 5 x 5
* Weather conditions may also be reported: overcast, 70 degrees.

Myra Brosius

Midlothian, VA

I have observed in the past months a chimney on a house in my block of seven houses that is open at the top and chimney swifts going in at times. Today, Sunday Sept 7th, I observed this chimney from 5:45pm until 8:00 pm. I did not see any swifts enter but did observe chimney swifts in the area above the houses as follows:
6:50 pm 2 chimney swifts very high
7:07 pm 2 chimney swifts very high
7:11 pm 3 chimney swifts lower in sky
7:20 pm 1 chimney swift low in sky
7:32 pm 2 chimney swifts low in sky near chimney
7:33 pm 1 chimney swift low in sky near chimney

These were the same chimney swifts I am sure so there were a total of 3 I feel. I did not see them enter the chimney and waited until it was moderately dark ( and being eaten by mosquitoes and circled by a bat!!) They may be rousting some where else but chimney swifts have used this chimney this year.
The location of this area is in the Woodlake housing complex in Chesterfield county in Midlothian Virginia.

Holt, MO

Sept. 10 Stayed light until 8:00 pm Warm, 72 Degrees. At least 100 Swifts entered the West tower. Just a few went into the North tower. All were in by 8:30. Very windy too and the Swifts were flying at incredible speeds In wide circles!

Sept. 11 Rainy, but still warm in the 70's, was dark by 7:30. We had 41 Swifts go in the West tower. All in by 7:35. Took 10 min. They came and went right in.

I counted up how many I released, 17, added the ones born in the towers and chimney, 17, Parents and helpers 7 or 8, and I think, by the way they all headed right for that tower, it is the ones that have lived here that came last night! We almost had some touch us on the deck! There are still about 15 in the tower at 10:15. And it's still raining slightly out there and 67 Degrees.

Sept. 12 Hard rain, 70 degrees, dusk 6:00 pm 5 Swifts went in the West tower.
At 6:30 pm almost dark, many Swifts came, flew all over in the rain like it didn't bother them one bit! They kept coming and coming. We have 60 to 80 Swifts in the tower tonight. They even were flying in the dark! We have a farm light so the dark didn't seem to bother them. By 7:00, they were all in. Also, we are under a Tornado watch!

Amazing Chimney Swifts, out there flying no matter what.

Joyce and Bill Rosson