Date: 7/16/17 9:57 am
From: Darlene Sillick <azuretrails...>
Subject: Re: [Ohio-birds] Additional information about Chimney Swifts
While I am not an expert with Chimney Swifts, I have done a lot of research and talked to a few experts. Apparently it is not easy to find a natural cavity that holds Chimney Swifts. See some sites below. My passion and interest is to make more people aware of the declining Chimney Swifts and take some action to try to help the species before they vanish. In a National Geographic article, they are Near Threatened and decreasing in population. I can only imagine that deforestation has played a large part in their decline, along with capped chimney’s and the deplorable condition of old industrial chimney’s. Also Cornell All About Birds gives some very good information.

On Tuesday October 24, the Columbus Audubon will hold their monthly meeting and Judy Semroc, Conservation Specialist with the Cleveland Natural History Museum. She has a fantastic presentation about Chimney Swifts and she has put up a tower with nesting success. We are looking forward to hearing her talk as we plan to put up some towers in the central Ohio area. We meet at the Grange Insurance Audubon Center in Columbus. More information about Judy’s talk is in the Columbus Audubon website and calendar of events. Consider joining Columbus Audubon members and guests for any of our monthly meetings.

Hope this information is helpful and go out at dusk and collect some data on new staging chimney’s in your area. Then enter your data on Swift Night Out and spread the word. See below….

Here is one article on Chimney Swifts nesting in a natural cavity. I don’t have an account and I don’t have the abstract.

Chimney Swifts (Chaetura pelagica) Nest in Tree Cavities in Arkansas

Richard E. Hines, Troy J. Bader, and Gary R. Graves

<> Southeastern Naturalist Dec 2013 : Vol. 12, Issue 4, pg(s) N18- N20 <>

<> Abstract & References


We report the first records of tree-nesting Chaetura pelagica (Chimney Swifts) in Arkansas from the White River National Wildlife Refuge (WRNWR). These represent the only well-documented reports of tree-nesting swifts for many decades in the lower Mississippi Valley. The WRNWR may support a large population of tree-nesting swifts.

Next the Mass Audubon could not find any in natural cavities after a long search. The Chimney Swifts fascinate me and I have done some rehab with friends who do it well. They are difficult to rehab.

I have an interesting 14 year study by Ralph W. Dexter in Ohio. Please email me privately if you are interested to see the study. He was a distinguished biology professor at Kent State University and he did a long term study of Chimney Swifts. He retired in 1982 and he taught there for 45 years. Take a look at the university seal for Kent State and you should recognize the tribute to Ralph Dexter. How interesting so much research was done in Ohio.

I hope to get 3 to 4 towers up this fall and see what happens next year. I have been working closely with Paul and Georgian Kyle from Texas. They sell a book about building towers for Chimney Swifts and they give a lot of great information on their website.


Darlene Sillick

Powell, Ohio

From: KimbaJ [mailto:<justshakingthrough...>]
Sent: Wednesday, July 12, 2017 3:17 PM
To: Darlene Sillick; <OHIO-BIRDS...>
Subject: Re: [Ohio-birds] The swifts are staging!

I just had an interesting thought...where did chimney swifts live before we had chimneys? Now I have to look into the etiology/ecology of this species. We had to make caps for our chimney this year because they were coming into the house.

-K Justice


From: Darlene Sillick <azuretrails...>
Sent: Monday, July 10, 2017 10:57 PM
Subject: [Ohio-birds] The swifts are staging!

Tonight my bluebird friends Paula Ziebarth and Sue Guarasci and I had just

finished dinner in downtown Dublin and I said, look there are swifts above,

let's see what is happening at Sells Middle School. Sells is on 161 and east

of Frantz Rd and west of Dublin Rd and on the north side of 161. We watched

the swifts from the back of the 1919 building and parked in between the

tennis courts and the back of the building. We arrived about 9:00pmET and

about 8 or so swifts were flying over the building. This location is a

favorite place for staging Chimney Swifts in late July, August and September

and into early October.

I discovered the staging site about 15 plus years ago and I have enjoyed

making others aware of these amazing creatures and their important use of

tall chimney stacks close to dusk. The birds gather from all different

directions and fly in a clockwise flight getting tighter and tighter in

their circle then start to enter the chimney for the night. We say it looks

like they are being sucked into the chimney or it looks like reverse chimney

smoke. We were not disappointed tonight and we were quite surprised while

counting the birds as they were entering the chimney. They kept coming in

and by 9:45-9:50pm we had counted over 675 birds entering the chimney for

their evening roost. And this is only July 10!

As an avid conservation person working with Eastern Bluebirds, Tree

Swallows, Purple Martins and American Kestrels and putting up state of the

art housing, many of us monitors have noticed we are having an amazing

season with nesting and fledging many birds. Bluebirds have started their

3rd nesting in central Ohio. Some areas might say the cicadas have helped

but that is only for a few weeks and not all of Ohio. I can now add Chimney

Swifts to the list of insect eating birds doing very well so far this

season. Of course, they are going to eat smaller insects. I have never

seen this many birds staging this early in the 15 years I have been watching


I count and enter data in and over the weekend of Aug

11, 12, 13 is Swift Night Out. They want you to watch near dusk for the

sound of the swifts twittering and chittering and flying around a chimney

before they begin to enter when the light is low enough. Then, as best as

you can, count them as they enter the chimney and note the start and end


On Sept 8, 9, 10 they have a second Swift Night Out. For both monthly

counts, I will visit Sells Middle School. I check the sunrise sunset

website and I try to go at least 30 minutes or more before sunset and watch

the birds come in from all directions. If it is a cloudy and overcast night,

the birds will start entering sooner.

About 12 years ago, the peek counts at Sells Middle School were over 5000

birds entering the chimney. Visit under the

conservation tab and click on Chimney Swifts to read up on the swifts

history and behavior in our area. This YouTube Video will give you a sense of the show you

will see. Take some time and look for sites in your neighborhood in old

school or business chimneys'. Take time to report your findings and get

others excited to watch the swifts. Take it a step further and get involved

in a swift tower conservation project. Several are going up in the central

Ohio area later this year. Check Columbus Audubon's calendar of events for

several public programs about the swifts during Swift Night out. Bring your

lawn chair and you and the mosquitos will enjoy the free show.

Darlene Sillick

Powell, Ohio


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