Date: 8/26/19 5:22 pm
From: DAVID A LEATHERMAN <daleatherman...>
Subject: [cobirds] Chimney Swifts on TV
If you are like me, you try to figure out the bird sounds you hear on movie soundtracks or in the background of live TV events (written your book yet, Eric DeFonso?). There has been a little chatter (sorry) about Chimney Swifts on COBIRDS involving the unique rehab of young swifts and their release by Nancy Kelley of Pueblo. Nice job, Nancy. Yesterday I got a "TV lifer", I think. Televised golf events have long been a source of bird sound as backdrop for the sheer excitement of watching grown humans wearing garish cloths walk down strips of mowed grass to hit little white balls with big sticks hoping they disappear into holes so they can retrieve them and repeat the whole process 17 more times. That happened yesterday in the Fed Ex Cup tournament near Lake Erie where the winner actually received the absurd purse of $15,000,000. What could the environmental movement do with that? But I digress. The producers of golf tournaments have been chided in the past for playing bird sound backdrops that were obviously recorded somewhere other than the site of the actual play being presented. Cactus wrens at Augusta, Georgia kind of goof-ups. Usually the birds one hears are mockingbirds, cardinals, blue jays, eastern pewees, pine warblers (or are those chipping sparrows) and Carolina wrens. Well, yesterday it was the staccato chip of a downy woodpecker followed by chimney swift chittering. Over and over and over. Same clip for hours. At first I was excited to hear a new one, the swifts, on TV, but then it became downright distracting. Would the golfer break concentration as the swifts zoomed overhead right when he was about to putt? Of course, not. He couldn't hear any of it, just those of us in our easy chairs. Then I got to thinking, most of the swifts in northern Colorado have pulled out. Are they still present in Cleveland? When was the tape made? Was it really local, and do the birds forage over a golf course? Who made the decision the woodpecker-swift combo would enhance the broadcast? Does that person still have a job?

So here's my real reason for this note. As stated, our local swifts in Fort Collins, which were way down in number this year BTW, usually disappear in mid-August. I see no chimney swifts for multiple weeks, then there is a period of a couple weeks, sometimes clear into October, when I hear swifts moving south. What is up with that? Obviously, the late swifts are migrants, but why would autumn-migrant northern birds, if they are northern birds, migrate later than southern birds? Is the timing of birds leaving here determined by excessive heat, while the northern birds are stimulated by more normal migration influences like day-length, colder nighttime temps and dwindling prey availability? Have others noted this gap in swift detections in late summer-early autumn, and does anybody have an explanation?

Dave Leatherman
Fort Collins

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