A Swift Evening Out Results – Success!
Nature Canada held A Swift Evening Out at the Dominican University College on August 12th 2015. A Swift Evening Out is an outdoor event featuring presentations, activities, and easy bird watching to raise public awareness of the Chimney Swift, a provincially and nationally threatened bird found in Ottawa. For more information, visit our previous blog to read about Chimney Swifts and our Swift Evening Out events.
With a group of approx 50 people, Alex MacDonald, Nature Canada’s Senior Conservation Manager for Urban Nature and Species at Risk, led visitors to the lot in the Dominican University College. There, Nicolas Conroy, Nature Canada’s Conservation Intern, and Alex, gave a brief overview of the life cycle of Chimney Swift. This species only has one nesting pair per chimney, but will allow visitors to stay overnight. They lay, and incubate the egg for 2 weeks until it hatches. When hatched, 3-5 blind, helpless birds emerge, and need food immideately. Their parents work around the clock, feeding their ever-hungry chicks. After less than three weeks pass, the birds are as large as their parents, and leave the nest to take wing for the first time in their lives. Extremely aerial birds, many don’t land during the day, meaning they feed, mate, bathe, and even sleep on the wing!
The clock stuck 8 p.m., and Nic brought everyone to the viewing area. This was a great view to witness birds entering. Every minute, a new group of birds joined the large flock and they began to circle the chimney.
Chimney Swifts perform something called “false dives”. These are what seem to be dives into the chimney, but the birds will turn away at the last minute. This performance helps the birds understand who will go in first. Sort of the like a horse race, where riders jockey for position. The birds will stay in the chimney overnight, and then exit the chimney in the same fashion (as a group) at dawn. The birds in Ottawa are going to begin their long journey to South America. Some may decide to just travel to Venezuela, while others will make a trip farther down to southern Peru.
Below you can see the CTV News segment, with footage of the birds entering the chimney.
Nature Canada would like to personally thank all the visitors for coming out for our event!