Date: 9/8/17 6:13 pm From: Bird Mom <pep4223...> Subject: A Swift Night Out (good news and sad news) - Charles Town, Jefferson County
Tanner Haid, Sheila Wilson and I were observers of Chimney Swifts for "A Swift Night Out". Charles Town, WV. Temperature was 62 degrees, no wind, clear sky. Predicted to be a chilly night tonight. Observation stationary point was in the parking lot across the road from the Charles Town post office.
September 8, 2017 from 7:00 PM - 7:54 PM
I arrived in downtown Charles Town at 7:00 PM and could see at least 35 Chimney Swifts (CHSW) forming a circular pattern over a few of the historic buildings near the downtown center. They were one block from the Charles Town post office, which was discovered as a roost site September 2016. In 2016, Tannor Haid and I had documented 50 CHSW's on 9/8/16 in the post office chimney, and on 9/9/16, a count of 80 CHSW's.
Tonight, the swifts circled the post office chimney, but their flight patterns were random, rather than in unison. They appeared to be confused and in scout mode. We started to discuss the fact that the post office chimney may have been capped after last season. Then the swifts totally disappeared at 7:15 PM. We were worried, so I drove my vehicle down Washington Street to try to locate the swifts elsewhere, but could not find where they had gone. Tannor and Sheila stayed in view of the post office to observe while I left. I returned at 7:18 PM and reported that I did not find the swifts in the downtown area. Then at 7:20 PM, a Sharp-shinned hawk flew over us fairly low. It may have been trying to prey on the swifts, which may have scattered them just prior.
I started to hear swifts again at 7:25 PM, but they appeared to be all scattered about, with no organized flight behavior. It was getting dark, and it was unclear where the swifts were going to roost. At 7:40 PM, we noticed that the swifts started to slowly drop into a chimney of a private residence that was visible from our viewing area of the post office chimney. There was no characteristic circular flight pattern around the chimney before they started dropping in. It still seemed unclear whether they were going in or not. About 7:45 PM, Shelia noticed a few swifts had entered a different chimney that was also within our viewing area. This second roost ended up with a total of 10 Chimney Swifts entering for the evening. We counted 117 Chimney Swifts entering the first roost. Unfortunately, the Charles Town post office roost appeared to have been capped, as no birds entered.
Two separate roosts formed within one block of each other, which was one block from the Charles Town post office.
1) South Samuel St and East Congress Street - total of 117 Chimney Swifts entered for the evening 2) Smaller roost 100 block of East Washington Street - total of 10 Chimney Swifts entered for the evening
Sharp-shinned Hawk (Northern) 1 7:15 pm flyover Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon) 12 Chimney Swift 127 American Robin (migratorius Group) 3 European Starling 15