A Continent-wide Chimney Swift Roost Monitoring Project


Dublin, OH

This evening proved to be a perfect end to a delightful weekend. With sunset about 8:15 pm tonight, I arrived about 7:45 to Sells Middle School in Dublin Ohio. I drove behind the school at the flashing light off 161/33E and parked behind the school in front of the tennis courts facing the back of the school.

  7:58 pm the first 15 to 20 swifts arrived
  8:02 pm several of the now 40 birds began dipping at the chimney
  8:04 clockwise flight of about 50 birds
  8:05 counter clockwise flight
  8:08 the first bird went in
  8:15 about 40 birds are now in the chimney
  8:16 over 100 entered
  8:17 heard and saw the Dublin nighthawk flying over the Scioto River area near 161
  8:20 each minute somewhere between 75 to 100 birds are entering the tall chimney

Between 8:30 and 8:34 when the last bird entered nearly between 550 and 600 birds appeared sucked into the chimney

Best estimations were between 1275 to 1300 birds were spending the night in the 1919 school building chimney.

Darlene Sillick

Webster Groves, MO

I went back to Bristol school tonight at 7:15 PM. The first swift showed up a few minutes later and the "real" gathering started about 7:25. They are using the rear chimney this year and I counted 171 entering between 7:40 and 7:45 when the last one went in. I'm sure my count is off some percent but I feel it's pretty close. Time was this is a match for other time I was there earlier in the week and there seemed to be a few more birds.   The school is on Gray at Lockwood in Webster Groves for anyone interested.

Bill Hoss

St. Joseph, MO

I used to see the swifts coming into roost (and leaving the roost the next morning) at the United Methodist Church on the opposite end of the block where we live in Saint Joseph. This is on Sacramento Street. For the last several years they have not been using the roost. The reasons for this are unclear to me at this time.
However, last night (acting on a tip from a fellow birder) I visited the Webster Elementary School at 1211 N 18th Street, Saint Joseph, and witnessed over 1000 swifts entering the tall chimney on the school building. I plan to watch their morning exit sometime during the coming week and get a more accurate count of the birds.

Larry Lade

Houston, TX

It has been a very busy and exciting week for chimney swifts in Houston!

On Tuesday, 9/1, we had our third annual swift night out at Perhing / Whole Foods. This year the swifts decided the event would be at Pershing. We counted 675 going into the chimney! We also had a great turnout of people!

We did not count at Whole Foods on Tuesday.

On Thursday evening, 9/3, Betsy and I counted at Lanier Middle School (2600 Woodhead and Westheimer). Someone posted on the Chronicle Website about this site - thank you! We counted over 391 chimney swifts at Lanier. Since we went to Lanier, I did not count at St Paul's.
Now, if you have been following Texbirds, you've heard of the new roost site in Sugar Land at the sugar refinery.

We had an impromptu swift night out last night, 9/6. We counted several thousand swifts. We are still trying to optimize our counting technique - it is a challenge!

If you get a chance, it is worth making the trip to check out the amazing sight. You can go any night. The parking lot is not fenced. The property owners know we are looking at the swifts. I will probably count there Thurs evening, 9/10.

At the site your first thought is to get as far back as possible. (At least mine was.) But the swifts swirl between the silos and char house towers (big white stacks), so the front of parking lot is best to observe.
We have one more official Swift Night Out event at St Paul's on Friday, 9/11, at 7 pm.
The next several weeks are a great time to check out the swifts! The numbers are high at all locations since we are in the middle of migration. We will meet at 7:30 - 7:45 pm depending on the cloud cover. (If it is cloudy and dark, we will meet earlier.)

Tuesday - Pershing
Thursday - Sugar Land
Friday - St Paul's
Check out www.houstonaudubon.org for details.

Thank you everyone for supporting the Swift Night Out Events!

Pam Smolen

Gainesville, FL

Here's a report for tonights count.
I counted 46 swifts between 7:50 pm and done by 8:10 pm
Site location across the street from 1215 NW 36th Terr, Gainesville, FL 32605
Weather- calm, 76 degrees F; some clouds in sky.
Chimney of a residence, home built in mid 1960's

Helen Warren

Houston, TX

Location of site-
Sutton Elementary School
7402 Albacore Drive
Houston, Texas 77074
Harris County
Old Incinerator on the school campus
Date 09/11/2009 -
Counted - 130 SWIFTS
Time 7:31 through 7:52 p.m.
Weather: - 83 / Dark clouds
Counters - Billie Strickland/Debbie Burnett/Jack Burnett /Doris Graham

Memphis, TN

9/11/09 1022 Chimney Swifts 7:11 CDT to 7:40 CDT Memphis, Shelby County, TN Site is an abandoned chimney that was used by the prison laundry. The chimney is located on Shelby Farms a 4000 acre park. We have surveyed this spot for several years. We arrived later that our usual starting time due to an accident which slowed traffic. We decided to go ahead with the count since the weather forecast for the rest of the weekend is not good. Swifts were entering the chimney when we arrived causing our count to be lower than normal.  There were high clouds in the area.

Carolyn Bullock and Virginia Reynolds

Austin, TX

We counted swifts last night. They loved the rain and did not want to stop playing. In the first tower we had 16. Because of the rain we did not do the new tower this time but will try to do it when the rain stops. I am going away for two weeks so will probably not be able to do it myself until I get back.

Marie Laing