Monday, May 21, 2018


   On Thursday evening, May 17, 2018 I attended Toronto's Swifts Night Out, organized by Friends of the Allan Gardens and Bird Studies Canada.  It started at the Allan Gardens Children's Conservatory with a talk on Chimney Swifts.  We then walked to the vicinity of the Moss Park Armoury (Queen St. & Jarvis St.) to view the Chimney Swifts going into the chimney of the armory. We weren't disappointed.  The Moss Park Armoury chimney has the largest roost of Chimney Swifts in the Toronto area.

   Initially at dusk we could see a few Chimney Swifts flying around the chimney and diving into it.  Sometimes some of the Chimney Swifts would seem to dive into the chimney and come right out.  As dusk wore on, hundreds of Chimney Swifts could be seen spiraling around the chimney and finally diving into it.  This was quite a sight.  After the bulk of the Chimney Swifts dove into the chimney, there were still a few stragglers that spiraled around the chimney and then dove into it.

   We can ID this bird as a Chimney Swift by its small size (about 5-6"), chimney habitat as a roost,  habit of spiraling around chimney before diving into it, cigar shaped body, very short tail, overall dark color with little or no contrast and long, curved wings.

   Chimney Swifts cannot perch like most birds, instead they can cling to vertical surfaces. Historically, Chimney Swifts used hollow trees as their homes, but this habitat has become scarce due to human intervention.  Now, Chimney Sifts roost in open chimneys made of brick or stone.  There will be only one nesting pair of swifts per chimney.  Non-nesting swifts will rest overnight inside the same chimney.  The Chimney Swifts will reside in chimneys from April to October. Chimney Swifts migrate to North America from Peru during the spring and return to Peru for the winter in October.

   The Chimney Swift is a new species to our Photographic Life List, which now stands at 782.

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