A Continent-wide Chimney Swift Roost Monitoring Project


Waycross, GA.

My first report to the project on this roost was in 2002. I have others for 2003 & 2004 that I did not send due to personal circumstances, but I will now include them below and they should give an interesting
comparison for use/non-use purposes. Note that for the intervening years after that first 2002 report where there was very active-use, there was apparent minimal early-season or no later-season use for these 2 years.
And now we have a return to somewhat active use in September again.

Number of Chimney Swifts: approx. 1,000 using roost
Time: approx. 7:35 p.m.---8:05 p.m.
Date: Sept. 8, 2005
Location: Magnolia Court Apartments
Address: Waycross, Georgia
Description: chimney
Weather: Partly Cloudy; Wind: slight breeze; Temp. 80's F
Observer: Sheila Willis, June LaRoque; Waycross, GA
Comments:  Conditions only allowed a limited, non-formal check of the site at this time. Birds were noted swirling & "chattering" in large masses over the chimney. Around dusk birds began to drop into the roost and by dark all had entered. Structure is a large, unused brick chimney for an apartment complex.

Number of Chimney Swifts: 1,064 using roost
Time: 7:20 p.m. to 8:08 p.m. (ET)
Date: Sept. 9, 2005
Location: Magnolia Court Apartments
Address: Waycross, Georgia
Description: chimney
Weather: Clear; Wind 0-7 mph (W); Temp. 87 F; Humidity 45%
Observer: Sheila Willis, Waycross, GA
Comments:  At first, single birds were seen and heard chattering high overhead. Gradually more would arrive from various directions but were mostly going South to North. They came as either singles or as part of small groups, would circle & swoop over the chimney, and then leave.

As time went by, they began to stay overhead. The first Chimney Swift dropped into the roost at 7:46 p.m. From 7:51 to 8:04 p.m. the pace & numbers increased dramatically with noisy cart-wheeling masses of birds doing circles & figure-8's low over the opening. Periodically birds would separate from the crowd and plunge into their sanctuary--again as individuals but increasingly as small groups.

After 8:04 p.m. most were inside, but a few individuals continued to fly around until 8:08 p.m. Structure is a large, unused brick chimney for an apartment complex.

Additionally, 2 Common Nighthawks were seen or heard as individuals flying high in transit, also going South to North.

Number of Chimney Swifts: 1,220 using roost
Time: 7:15 p.m. to 7:54 p.m. (ET)
Date: Sept. 24, 2005
Location: Magnolia Court Apartments
Address: Waycross, Georgia
Description: chimney
Weather: Partly Cloudy; Wind 3-9 mph (SE); Temp. 92 F; Humidity 70%
Observer: Sheila Willis, Waycross, GA
Comments:  Most birds were flying from either South to North or North to South. Overall, compared to the 9/9/05 date, they were later with their arrival relative to sunset, and the moment of the 1st drop time was also delayed, but the length of time for all to enter is basically the same as before (about 20 minutes). They seemed to be acting more as individuals now.

Most movement over the chimney was as circular (counterclockwise) or loose masses that occurred typically first adjacent to the chimney, then shifted to over it. There was much "chattering". All birds entered the roost. Structure is a large, unused brick chimney for an apartment complex.

Sheila Willis

Heavener, OK

It's Oct. 2, 2005 and I finally remembered to watch for the migration of the Swifts here in Heavener, OK. Last evening I noticed a concentration at the usual chimney here in downtown Heavener. It has happened every year for years and I have never tried to count the birds. Anyway the chimney is a three story high 14x14" opening. It is never used and in a practically abandoned build. This evening I went down to watch about 7:00 PM. By 7:10 they begin to congregate and by 7:15 the typical swirl had formed. As more groups of birds joined the whirl, it got thicker and thicker. The swirl was probably 200' wide circling clockwise. Once it reversed for 3 circuits. It was solid birds by this time. At 7:22 a few dropped into the chimney. At 7:25 they begin to drop in quickly. I have counted many Blackbird and Crow roost lines but nothing like trying to count Chimney swifts. As best as I could I tried to count them by 10s as they entered the Chimney. To the best of my counting,the remainder, about 2,400 entered the chimney in a 5 min. time. I don't know if this is the peak number for this location or it will continue to build. I will check it again in a few days. I'm sure this is a migratory roost because large numbers of swifts are not here during the breeding season.

Bob LaVal

Griegsville, NY

As an update for the Chimney Swift counts at the York Central School we have the following:

Sept. 22 1100 count by Jim Kimball (clear c. 60 degrees)
Sept. 24 1300 count by Judy Gurley (clear c. 65 degrees)
Sept. 28 1000 count by Jim Kimball (cloudy c. 60 degrees)
Oct. 1 1100 count by Jim Kimball (clear c. 55 degrees)

Jim Kimball

Allentown, PA

Date: September 26, 2005
812-814 Hamilton Street
City & State:
Allentown, PA 18102
On the above date, I counted 238 chimney swifts enter the rear chimney in the building at the site of the proposed brew pub.

Elizabethtown, KY

I regret that I did visit your site during the "official" comment period.

Anyway, you might be interested in knowing that chimney swifts roost in my 8 foot tall chimney. My
home is about a block from downtown Elizabethtown. I have observed them here since 1971, when I bought this house. Probably, they roosted in this chimney long before 1971. (My home is 100 years old this year.)

This morning, I observed the swifts leave the chimney at around 7:30 a.m. EDT and re-enter it beginning
around 7:30 p.m. I estimate 300 - 400 swifts defended into the chimney in approximately 30 minutes.

The weather here is dry today, temperatures ranging from mid-80s during the day to mid-60s at night

These birds are a joy to behold in twittering flight all day long and in gradually lower and tighter orbits
around my chimney, their roost, at dusk.

Jerry Leitzell

Madison Heights, VA

My sister lives across the driveway from us and we yell out to the kids "the show is getting ready to start" and they all come running. We watch these Chimney Swifts circle and start to drop in every evening. They have been there for most of the summer. Some nights there are more than others. We have counted several hundred, but as fall is progressing the numbers seem to be increasing. This is a residential chimney.

Patricia Whitten