A Continent-wide Chimney Swift Roost Monitoring Project


Delaware, OH:  I have been counting swifts entering the South chimney of the Ohio National Guard Armory on West William Street on most nights since 13 August 2004. Their numbers peaked on 27 August when 1020 entered during a rain. On 3 September, 559 swifts entered the chimney, then their numbers dropped to 264 the next night, then to 88, and only 8 entered on September 6. No swifts roosted on 7 and 8 September, although a flock of more than 20 birds swooped at the chimney.

The armory roost might have been abandoned because of raccoons running around on the roof. One or two raccoons normally appear on the roof. Also, the chimney is connected to a new furnace. Also, an employee at Tim Hortons across the street was buzzed by an owl. Eastern Screech Owls have nested in trees one block north and this species is mentioned in the literature for snatching swifts from wide chimneys---like the one at this location. All news is not bad, however. Here is my data for 10, 11, and 12 September.

10 September 2004. The armory roost is abandoned but a flock of 20 or more swifts made an appearance without entering the chimney indicating that Delaware had swifts. I vowed to "hunt for" swifts the following night.

11 September 2004. I planned to zigzag through Delaware in my car until I located a new roost. With my window down and the radio off I drove from my home across town to the East side and only saw swifts flying above the West side of town. I returned to the West end and started driving only north-south streets until I ran out of tall chimneys, then I crossed over one block west, and returned to complete the coverage. Soon, I located a concentration of swifts that had zeroed in on one neighborhood. Once I saw the swifts flying in a circular path, I parked and proceeded on foot to a parking lot belonging to the Zion United Church of Christ at 51 West Central Ave. On the back of this church the swifts were dipping at the large brick chimney. I had found a new roost which is 1100 feet North-North-West from the abandoned roost at the armory.From the first bird entering at 20:02 to the last one at 20:10, 337 swifts were counted.

Sunday 12 September 2004. Zion United Church of Christ. First of 375 roosting swifts entered the chimney at 19:56, the last one 14 minutes later at 20:10. This was an adventurous swift watch.

Dick Tuttle

Spartanburg, SC:  Lovely week-end between hurricanes/tropical storms here in Spartanburg is in the Piedmont of South Carolina at the intersection of I-85 and I-26.

Friday, September 10, 2004
Chimney of apartment at the corner of Connecticut Avenue and East Main Street At 7:28 PM EDT a lone Chimney Swift was observed soaring against a blue sky with few clouds Heard their chattering as more swifts joined him and began to check the chimney by 7:31.  One swift entered at 7:32 and another at 7:40 PM EDT, while more swifts arrived and circled.  By 8:12 PM 662 swifts had entered the chimney. The stragglers and final scout returned and by 8:15 a total of 678 Chimney Swifts had roosted for the night.
Two Common Nighthawks also circled and a Red-tailed Hawk cruised over the building. 

Summary: 9/10/2004 Spartanburg, SC 7:32-8:15 PM EDT 678 Chimney Swifts

Saturday, September 11, 2004
Chimney of office complex [former library] at the corner of Palmetto Street and South Pine Street [This location is about 10 blocks sw of the East Main site. Main and Pine are two boundaries of an established residential neighborhood that appears park-like from the air with all of the old oaks.] Recruited two more watchers but had fewer birds.  About 7:30 PM EDT a few Chimney Swifts were circling against a blue sky with wispy clouds.  Heard American Robin evening song and Ruby-throated Hummingbird buzzed around.
More swifts arrived and circled, as did a Common Nighthawk.  By 8:15 PM 81 swifts had entered the chimney. Did not see final scouts.

Summary: 9/11/2004 Spartanburg, SC 7:30-8:15 PM EDT 81 Chimney Swifts

S. Campbell
Department of Biology, NSE
University of South Carolina in the Upstate

Memphis, TN:  On 9/12/04, Carolyn Bullock and I arrived at 6:12 PM CDT at the Shelby Farm Election Commission parking lot where we noticed several swifts staring to circle the vary tall chimney located on the prison property. We estimate it is about 100-125 ft tall. The chimney is located near the Wolf River (1/2 mile). Although there are prison buildings around the chimney, none are tall and the surrounding area is farm/park land. By 7:37PM, when it was getting too dark to see the birds clearly, we had counted at least 1667 swifts entering the chimney.

Virginia Reynolds

Austin, TX:  Number of swifts counted: 121
Time (and time zone): 7:58-8:08pm CDT
Date: 9/12/04
Location: Brentwood Elementary School, 6700 Arroyo Seco

Description of the site: Brick Chimney at school.
Weather conditions: Clear.

This event was great. About 30 folks turned out. Julia and I gave about a 15-minute talk about CHSWs, and got a lot of questions. We handed out most of the literature, and even had a person or 2 interested in
potentially building a tower.  Then we watched the swifts, and it got quite exciting anticipating whether and when they would start dropping in.

Andy and Julia Balinsky

Attalla, AL:  There were 38 today. 9-13-04 / Counted 63 earlier in the summer.

Claude Jones

Beaver Falls, PA:  There are still a lot of Swifts flying around here during the day. Some in groups of ten or so. At night they are roosting in a relatively small chimney across the street from me. Lately I'd say maybe around a hundred. BUT, tonight I have several in my own chimney (about 200 feet from the chimney across the street). I'm surprised! I'm sitting here working on the computer and listening to my monitor (camera mic). I've check every night since the babies fledged and I've never seen or heard any activity in there until tonight. Wow!

Judging from what I see here I would guess that there must be at least 1000 roosting in the Beaver Falls area these last few nights.

Dick McCall

Texas City, TX:  Had some problem locating our swifts. The city came in and did some roof repairs...tar pots flags on the roof etc and kept our swifts out of the location reported in August. However we found the group back in their old haunt at 6th Street and Fifth Avenue North in Texas City 10th, 11th, 12th, and 13th.

10th 275
11th 309
12th 512
13th 578

Best wishes in your endeavor.

Elsie Smith

Austin, TX:  I checked the roost at the AFL-CIO building on Brazos Street in Austin, Texas from 7:50 - 8:15 pm on September 11. During that time, 1100 swifts flew into the building's chimney. (That number is my best estimate--at times the birds were entering the chimney so fast it was hard to keep track.)

I rechecked the chimney at St. Austin's Church on August 29, from 7:50 to 8:15 pm. At least a dozen swifts were still in the vicinity, and they sometimes swept right by the chimney. But none of them entered it.

John Kelly

Memphis, TN:  9-12-2004 from 6:30-7:40 pm CST we observed a chimney at the Bartlett High School. Between 7:25 and 7:40 we counted 350 chimney swifts entering the chimney. They all went in before it got too dark to see.

John and Linda Zempel