A Continent-wide Chimney Swift Roost Monitoring Project


Romeo, MI:  Romeo Community Schools Administration Building / Friday, September 10, 2004 my Chimney Swift count was 126. First in at 7:58, Last in at 8:20. Back to work on Monday, September 13, that number shot up to 182 with the last one entering at 8:15. Weather both days was perfect. Clear skies and temperatures in the 70's. Winds calm from the south and southeast.

I have noticed a great variance in timing compared to last year, with this years birds already in the roost while the birds last year were just starting to enter it at about 8:15. I wonder if this is normal. Also, there was one night of rain last week and no birds were seen at all. Where were they? Do they go in the chimney before it starts raining or do they fly above the clouds until it stops even if it's dark?

Diane Miller

Editors' response:  The time that swifts go to roost can vary depending on the weather conditions. Overcast, cool or rainy evenings can cause them to go in sooner. When you saw no birds, they were probably already in the chimney. They do not generally fly after dark unless chased out their roost by a predator or some other disturbance.

Oxford, Ohio:  Current numbers for Sawyer Smokestack US-OH-005 Miami University
Saturday Sept 4...2993...first in at 8:15pmEDS...last in at 8:35pmEDS...3 counters...weather clear and sunny
Sunday Sept 5 3112 same same 2 slightly overcast
Monday Sept 6 2933 same same 2 clear and sunny

Debra Bowles

Tyler, TX:  We observed Chimney swifts on the evening of Sept 12, 2004 in Smith County, . We counted approximately 700 swifts entering the smokestack from 7:47 till 8:10 pm. The swifts roost in a very large smokestack at the Borden's Milk Plant on the corner of Front St. and Palace.
Jeff and Angela Rouse

Lexington, SC:  255 swifts counted*
Arrived at 7:45 pm
September 10th
Site was an old intermediate school chimney in . The chimney extends approximately 4 feet above the flat roof and appears to be near maximum capacity.

*Note: We released the final 2 young chimney swifts from CWC this evening. We have released approximately 95 young swifts at this site this year.

41 swifts counted
Arrived at 7:35 pm
September 12th
Site was at the Lexington County Museum on Fox Street in downtown Lexington, SC. The complex has 10 historical buildings that have either 1 or 2 chimneys. Many of the buildings sit in the open with no surrounding trees. Curiously, this year the swifts had chosen a chimney with a very large cedar tree growing against it that extended at least 6 feet above the height of the chimney.

Deb Rosengrant

Staunton, VA:  Last night Mary Vermeulen and I went to MBC to the Broman concert - we noticed a lot of swifts - and waited to see where they were going. We counted 225 (at least) going in the chimney of the house on the south corner of Coalter and Berkley Place!

YuLee Larner

Kearney, MO:  Sept. 17, '04 7:23 pm to 7:57 pm
Counted up to 3000 Chimney Swifts going into the  Jr. H.S. built in 1920. The chimney is 50 ft. high and 3 by 3 ft. wide. There was a little wind and lightning. Temp. 68 degrees F. Still a beautiful night. Now I know why I don't have a roost in my towers, they're all in Kearney!

Glad the huge chimney is back in business this year. Last year, with all the very close construction, we counted only 25 Swifts and had at least 300 in our towers. They say, the migrating Swifts have been using that chimney ever since the school was built.

Joyce Rosson

Austin, TX:   At Becker elementary school, which is at South 5th street and Monroe street in south Austin, there is a brick incinerator chimney. We watch the chimney swifts gather starting about 7:20 in the evening. At first there are just a handful, but by 7:45 there are several hundred. Usually around this time the chaotic flight changes to a directional circling of the chimney. Within 10 minutes about 300 birds flow into the chimney. We love this place because our children can play on the playground, run on the track, and simultaneously watch the spectacular ritual. We wish there was a chimney camera to watch the pouring in of all those birds into that small opening. I bet the school would like it too- as they have some feeders and
houses there already.

Kenny Anderson

Joplin, MO:   I counted 913 Chimney Swifts exit the North Middle School, 2nd & Gray (64801)
Missouri, on Sept. 12, 2004, from 0742 to 0752 AM. CST. Partly cloudy, very little breeze.
Temp. not recorded. The brick chimney is about 7 X 8 X 70 ft.

This evening, 9-19-04, I had a remarkable 1633 CHSW go to roost at this site.
Clear sky, very little breeze, temp 82 F. Time was from 7:35 pm to 7:48 pm.

I'll keep monitoring about weekly until there are no more like I did last year.

Good birding, Lawrence Herbert

Athens, GA: Though we were not at home Sept 10 and 11, we did count chimney swifts going down our neighbor's chimney on Sunday Sept 12. There were 47. Their address is 295 Crestwood Drive. The night of September 13 there were 89. Swifts always nest in our chimney, and we usually have some during fall migration, but not this year, so far.

Alberta Smith

Jonestown, TX:  September 18:  ~1885 (a spectacular, swirling mass dropped single file into the abandoned cistern in Jonestown - all within about 10 minutes)

Kathy McCormack

Travis County, TX:  On September 16, 198 swifts entered the South Observation Tower at Chaetura Canyon at dusk:  a high count for the season.  After returning from the Hummer / Bird Celebration in Rockport--Fulton, TX. on Sunday (9/19), we found that only 45 swifts were roosting in the South Tower.  However, a fair number were now also roosting in the Castle -- which had been empty since early August.  On Tuesday night (9/21) we discovered that some swifts had also returned to roost in several of the smaller nest towers and the South Tower was completely empty. 

October 2:  The Castle hosted 260 swifts -- quite a traffic jam...

Paul and Georgean Kyle

Saint Joseph, MO:  I counted a disappointing fourteen (14) Chimney Swifts enter the chimney at Huffman Memorial Church at 28th and Renick in Saint Joseph, Missouri, on the evening of September 22, 2004. The first went in at 7:31 PM Central Daylight Savings Time and the last at 7:39 PM. I watched until at 7:50 PM. No more entered the chimney or were flying in the area after 7:39 PM.

I had thought they might be gathering for their evening roost at this site, as there were about 100 of the swifts flying randomly around the general area immediately prior to my observing the first one entering the chimney. Most of them dispersed seeking other roosting sites for the night.

Larry Lade

Lewiston, ID:  Number of swifts counted: 125
Time (and time zone): 6:55 pm Pacific
Date: 9/22/04
Location: 1409 8th St., 83501
Site Description: abandoned boiler chimney off Webster Elementary School, approximately 40-50ft tall, 4 ft square.
Weather: overcast with ~80% cloud cover, clouds high in elevation, no wind, no rain.

Joel Sauder