A Continent-wide Chimney Swift Roost Monitoring Project


Florence, AL

It's been a busy, crazy, and wet summer, so today was the first time I've had a chance to do a chimney swift count this year. We usually have a dozen or so that roost in the chimney on our house. Today was the first clear day we've had in a while, with high temperatures in the 70s and low 80s and lows in the 60s. Usually I see two groups of birds that fly together and break off at nightfall. This year I only saw one group. It will be getting cooler this week so I expect them to leave soon.

Number: 52 (the most I've ever seen)
Time: 6:30-7:00 PM Central
Date: Sept. 27
Location: Residential chimney
Address: Florence, AL
Description: Chimney on residence in a suburban neighborhood.
Weather: Warm and sunny, although very rainy for the past month

Sydney Harper

Clarksville, TN

Conducted a swift count at a commercial chimney where we usually have hundreds in the fall. This year we only counted 4 though on Sept 13, 2009 between 7:10 - 7:30 in Clarksville, TN. This is a very large chimney that used to be the old water works plant. Not sure what the problem is, but the chimney is starting to deteriorate on the exterior.


Daniel Moss
Wildlife Biologist - Contractor
Colorado State University

Columbus, OH

Found your website after discussing the chimney swifts outside of our fire station. We watch them every night at the same time.
Number: 1,000-3,000
Time: 6:30-7:30
Old building just east of Columbus, Ohio Fire Station 1 (300 N. 4th)
Old warehouse with tall smokestack.

Mike Werchowski
CFD/Station 1

Greigsville, NY

My AP students and I counted 1150 chimney swifts entering the chimney at our school, York Central School, Griegsville, NY on Saturday, September 12, 2009, with the first entering the chimney at 7:25pm, and the last entering at 7:46pm. This is our second largest count over the past few years. Last year, at approximately the same date, we counted over 1500!

We are able to view them at close range from the science room windows that face the courtyard where the chimney is located, so we had an excellent view. The weather was slightly overcast, with temperatures in the 60s. We made a fun videotape to record the event, which I will try to make available for viewing.
I was also able to observe that many swifts were still around on the evening of Thursday, September 17th.
I observed again on Thursday, September 24th, and the swifts were no longer around.

Student participants this year included Sam Cox, Rhianon Condello, Tonya Klein, Rachel Woodworth, Emily Peter, Molly Witter, Leanne Chen, and Tori Brightman.
Karl and Ellen Hanafin, George and Cindy Briggs, Rachel's dad, and the Pangrazio family also participated in the fun.

Winston-Salem, NC

The Audubon Society of Forsyth County (Winston-Salem, NC) held a Swift Watch last year and again this year.

Last year's downtown roost was at the Millennium Center at the corner of 5th and Trade Sts. This is a large old Post Office building that is now privately owned. It has a large chimney but not massive as some of the older industrial buildings have. We held the event on September 15th. A couple of nights earlier, I estimated there were 10,000 swifts at this roost.

This year's roost was at 4th and Chestnut in an old brick factory building with a moderate chimney. The Swift Watch event was September 9th and I estimated 3000 birds at that time. Two days later, I checked again and estimated the numbers had dropped to about 1100 birds.

A birder reported a few days ago that he had seen lots of birds at the Millennium Center. I had checked that chimney in early September and there was no activity there at that time, but I checked it again on 9/27 and estimated 2200 swifts on that date. I checked the 4th and Chestnut site earlier that evening and it did not appear that the swifts were still using that roost. While I can't be certain, because I couldn't observe both chimneys throughout the time that the birds would be going in to roost, it appeared that there were no longer any birds roosting at 4th and Chestnut, but lots at the Millennium Center.

Number of swifts counted: approximately 3,000
Time (and time zone): 7:00 to 8:00PM EST
Date: September 9, 2009
Location: 4th and Chestnut Sts
Address: Winston-Salem, NC
Broad description of the site: moderate-sized chimney in a old brick building
Weather conditions: clear, very light wind

Ron Morris

Wheeling, WV

Friends--sorry for such a late post--I was out-of town on the Aug weekend; Sept 11-13 was a complete no go--rain made for no noted swifts at my best location--Bridge Street Middle School on Bethlehem Blvd in Wheeling WV...however, for your records there were surprisingly about 250 birds there this am (9/29/09) swirling about the chimney--they began to drop into the chimney by 9:30 am and were all roosting by 9:45 am w/ only about 20 birds still hunting around the chimney at that time. I have not been scientific in
checking this chimney daily, but the times I have , no congregations were present-- while a nice flock, this is far from the numbers there last Sept--over 1500 birds.

Michael Dietrich

White Stone, VA

Date of observation: September 22, 2009
Time: 6:10 p.m. - 7:25 p.m.
Location: Historic chimney on residence in White Stone, Virginia
Weather conditions: mild, partly cloudy, calm wind
Number of birds observed: 400 (plus or minus)

Comments: Similar observations were made on successive evenings through September 29.

Mayfield Heights, OH 

We are reporting a sighting of about 400 chimney swifts
Date - September 30, 2009
Time - 7:15 -7:25 pm EST
Location - Mayfield Hts, OH
Place - Old school chimney - corner of Rt 91 and Wilson Mills Rd
Weather conditions - overcast, temp 55 degrees

Matt Fekete

Bumpass, VA

We counted 10 swifts, Residential Chimney Ours on Sept 15, they came home at about 7.40 pm.
Bumpass Virginia.  They were still coming "Home" at Dusk as of Saturday October 3.

Judy Stephens