SwiftWatch volunteers count Chimney Swifts at roost sites on four pre-determined spring dates, as part of a national roost monitoring effort. These evening counts are done across eastern Canada from Manitoba to Nova Scotia, and help monitor migrating swift populations. Contact a coordinator in your region to get involved!
In 2020, the National Roost Monitoring dates are:
May 20,24, 28 and June 1. June 5 (optional)
Volunteers also search for and report new nest and roost sites, to help improve monitoring and stewardship efforts.
Lastly, volunteers monitor roost and nest sites on any date during the summer. This information helps determine whether certain chimneys are used by swifts each year, for how long each season, and for what purpose (nesting, roosting, or both), to help prioritize conservation efforts.
Be a Good Swift "Host"
Many owners are upgrading or demolishing existing stone and brick chimneys. Newer chimneys that are narrower, lined with metal, and/or capped are unsuitable for swifts. There are simple ways of maintaining our chimneys so they are beneficial to us and swifts. For example, have chimneys swept annually to avoid potentially dangerous creosote build-up; scheduling sweeping between October and March protects Chimney Swifts during migration and breeding (April to September). If the chimney is unused, leave it uncapped during spring and summer for Chimney Swifts to access. Read more tips in our printable brochure "How to be a Good Chimney Swift Host."
Swift-friendly Chimney Maintenance: Chimney Swifts may be encountered during routine chimney cleaning and maintenance. Learn to identify adults, chicks, and nests before working on a chimney. Use a mirror to check the flue for signs of swifts. Chimney Swifts and their nests and eggs are protected by law in Canada. If swifts are present, reschedule work for October or later, when swifts have migrated south. Chimney Swifts only build one tiny nest per chimney, which usually detaches once the birds depart, so there is no risk of fire or damage to the chimney. Read our brochure for more information.
Woodlot Owners: Before Chimney Swifts adapted to chimneys, they roosted and nested in snags and cavity trees. To protect more habitat, SwiftWatch is teaming up with woodlot owners and operators to understand how swifts select nest and roost trees. If you own or operate a woodlot, you can help. Learn to identify Chimney Swifts, report sightings of swifts and nests, and when safe to do so, leave snags and cavity trees standing. Read more about Bird Studies Canada's research on tree-nesting Chimney Swifts.
Contact SwiftWatch for more information about becoming a Chimney Swift Steward.