Public help sought in counting chimney swifts
What appears like smoke pouring into brick chimneys in coming weeks isn’t an optical illusion, but rather what state wildlife officials say is likely hundreds of native chimney swifts roosting for the night and gathering strength and numbers before they migrate south. Citizens can count and report sightings during the birds’ nightly roosting phenomenon, which provides conservationists vital information and a foundation to start reversing the decline of the unique species. Because chimney swifts congregate in communal roosts before migrating in late summer to early fall, it’s relatively easy to count them.
• Below are tips for counting chimney swifts:
• Look for tall brick chimneys that are uncapped.
• Watch to see where swifts are feeding and congregating.
• Pick one or more August nights to watch for the swifts.
• Observe the roost starting about 30 minutes before sunset until 10 minutes after the last swift enters the chimney.
• Count (or estimate) the number of swifts as they enter the chimney. It’s useful to count in groups of five or 10 when they enter most quickly.
After collecting the information, citizens may submit the data in one of two ways:
Go to the ebird-quick-start-guide at help.ebird.org/customer/portal/articles/973977-ebird-quick-start-guide. When prompted for location, map the roost site to an exact address or point. Be sure to include in the “Chimney Swift” comments section the general weather conditions, time when the first and last swifts entered the roost and type of building (residence, school, church, business, etc.).
Send the same information as above, along with name, address, email, date and exact time of the survey at the roost to Bill Mueller, Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory, firstname.lastname@example.org, or 1242 S. 45th St., Milwaukee, WI 53214.
More information about chimney swifts and how to help protect them can be found on the new Wisconsin Chimney Swift Working Group website at wglbbo.org/wisconsin-chimney-swift-working-group.