A Continent-wide Chimney Swift Roost Monitoring Project


September 9, 2001

Arlington, VA:  Number of swifts:  64
Time:  7:20 PM-8:00 PM
Date:  September 9, 2001
Location:  Fairlington Community Center 3308 South Staffors Street Arlington, Virginia 22206
Site description:  Old school converted into a community center.
Weather:  Warm (temperature about 80 degrees), humid,  overcast.  A light breeze after 7:40 PM
Notes:  Swifts dropped into chimney between 7:26 and 7:39 PM.  This site generally experiences peak numbers around  September 15-20, when 300-500 or more swifts may be observed in a single evening.  Numbers may already be rapidly increasing;  I did a "pre-count" on Friday,  Sept. 7 and tallied 24 birds.

Fayetteville, ARI observed roosting chimney swifts in Fayetteville, Arkansas, on Sunday September 9, 2001. 675 chimney swifts entered a roost between 7:30-8:00.  This roost is at the Central United Methodist Church in Fayetteville. I can't tell what the structure is they are roosting in because whatever it is hidden by a facade. I need to get up on the roost and check this out. We had our first big fall cool front come through Saturday night-Sunday morning; this roost increased from about 450 birds on Friday September 7 (warm night) to the 675 On September 9 (cool night). If past years are an
indication, it will continue to grow and reach more than 1000 during October.

McGaheysville, VA: I counted swifts entering the large chimney at the Montevideo Middle School several miles SW of McGaheysville from 1930-1952. The total count had to be estimated at 300 due to difficulty in actually seeing the birds entering the chimney. The weather was cloudy, threatening rain, calm, 70 degrees F.

Laurel, MDSunday Sept 9, 2001 7:15 to 7:45 pm. #1375 Loc. 800 block of Fourth Street, Laurel, MD 20707. Apartment building (brick) with large chimney (apparently no longer used). Weather was good. Chimney is used in spring, summer, and fall.

Austin, TX:  O' Henry Middle School the nights of 8 and 9 September. The first night we weren't in a good position to count, and were really just practicing. The second night we estimated 770 swifts dived into the tower.

Baltimore City, MD: 
#4205 birds counted by one group 4200 counted by another at same time and
Place.  80 degrees F, medium breeze, lightly overcast sky, large old renovated Mill chimney by the Jones Falls river in Baltimore, Md. In between Darby and Chestnut Ave. Baltimore city.  Started gathering 7:00 / Started entering 7:05 / Finished 7:55

Jamaica Plain, MA:  Tonight we observed a very large flock of chimney swifts circling a chimney.  I went on the web to get some more information (my copy of Stokes is in storage) and I found your site, announcing the chimney swift night out this very night.  What an excellent coincidence.  here are the particulars of our observation:

7.25 PM
Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts 02130
122 Boylston St.
Weather: clear, 70 F
Number of swifts observed: ~200
site: chimney of an old warehouse now converted to office uses.  The area is a residential neighborhood
in Boston; this building is down near the rail line (subway and AMTRAK) where there are a few more old warehouse buildings.   
activity: swifts were circling chimney in a large flock, occasionally one would drop down into the
chimney; the frequency with which they flew into the chimney increased as we watched. 

Austin, TX:  North Tower at Chaetura Canyon N.W. of Austin, TX.  Climate conditions were windy and 78 degrees F.  The first of the fall cold frontal passages occurred just before dawn this morning.  The last count on September 6 of 53 birds was a benchmark for this evening's count.  A cold front can either bring new roosting arrivals or encourage resident birds to begin migration.  At 7:26 we knew we would host at least a few swifts for one more night when a Turkey Vulture soared over the canyon
with an escort of 4 swifts.  The first swift entered the North Tower at 7:50 with approximately 30 birds circling counter clockwise.  At 7:53 new arrivals appeared from the northwest causing the circling birds to briefly reverse their direction to clockwise.  At 8:03 the last of 84 individuals entered the tower.

The Twin Towers of Chaetura Canyon are made of wood and measure  ~ 18" x 18" and stand 22' tall.

Nashville, TN:  Counted 306 Chimney Swifts on Sept. 9 from 7:13-7:25 PM going down into a chimney at Tusculum Elementary School on Tusculum Rd. in Nashville, TN.  It was cloudy, a little breezy, and about 84 degrees.

Lockhart, TX:  Recycling Center / large cement pipe--+500 /  7:45--8:00

Holt, MO: 7:30 -7:50 p.m. About 100 swifts circled and dived at our 2 towers and 2 chimneys. But at
almost 8:00 p.m., only 9 went into our new tower, 2 went into the old tower and 2 went into the first floor chimney. We don't know where the others went!
Outside temp. 68 degrees F.
Tower north of barn 65 degrees F.
Tower west of barn 66 degrees F
Chimneys-73.4 degrees F.

7824 S.E. Freeway Farms Dr.
Holt, Mo. 64048

Towers  located on 4+ acres, attached to the barn, about 50 ft. from the
house, 14 ft. from each other.

Laurel, MD: 
Sept 9 from about 7:15 to 7:55 pm (eastern time zone, daylight savings time) - 1050 individuals were counted entering a large chimney of a brick apartment building on Fourth Street (east side) about 1 block south of Rt. 198.  The birds have been known to roost in at least 2 different  chimneys in the complex of apartment buildings.  Weather conditions were excellent.

Grasonville, MD:  Thanks for A Swift Night Out.  A few years back I sat out every night for a couple of weeks and counted our visitors.  It was most enjoyable watching the incoming birds.

We picked September 9th.  Time was about 8:00 pm - partly cloudy. -- temp. 72 degrees F, humidity 88% at our residence.  Chimney is brick without top.  We counted 17 swifts.  We love the swifts - hope you can conserve them.

Annandale, VA:  Annandale High School, Medford Dr., Annandale, VA 22003. Counts are based on approximate numbers seen entering a tall chimney on the roof of the school.  The school is 3 stories...the chimney is approximately 50 feet high from the roof of the school. I did not have gauges to accurately track air temperature or wind speed.  7:10 pm. - 8:00 pm.
Weather: about 80 degrees F, humid, cloudy, light winds
Approximate count: 3020

Mission, KS:  Here are our observations for Sept. 9th, 2001.
Highlands Elementary School  6200 Roe Blvd. Mission, Kansas 66205

There is a tall boiler chimney used by swifts as a nighttime roost.
Weather:  clear; 70 degrees F. to 68 degrees F.; wind: none; sunset 7:37 pm

Since I had enjoyed the previous evening so much 1 decided to try again on the next evening. My wife was able to join me on this evening. This is the site I had intended to visit the night before. I had seen
hundreds of swifts gather around this stack in the early to mid-nineties but hadn't visited this sight since probably 1995. Since then the school has become air-conditioned and the large outdoor unit sits below the stack and is very loud when running. One note is that this chimney is half the size of the one at Santa Fe Elementary School.

Arrival  7:30       1 Chimney Swifts
             7:40       4     "      "
             7:47     30     "      "
             7:50     70     "      "   1st swift entered
             7:55    120    "      "   6 inside shaft
             8:00    180    "      "  13 have entered shaft, rest in air circling
             8:05    250    "      "  41 have entered shaft,
             8:10    Large stream of swifts began entering shaft. Up until now it had been I to 5 birds at a
                        time. Swifts entered anywhere from 5 to 15 every 1-2 seconds. About 300 swifts were
                        inside by the time this started. Continued at this rate until about 50 swifts were left
                        outside shaft.
              8:17   Last 2 swifts enter shaft.

Estimated total swifts. 843

When the large streams of swifts started entering shaft there was no time to estimate number of swifts circling overhead. It was also harder to estimate numbers circling as there was no contrasting cloud cover as a backdrop like the previous evening and we were sitting next to a Street light.

I hope that this information helps in your research. We certainly enjoyed the spectacle!