Essex SwiftWatch Summary 2018

Written by Jeremy Hatt for The Egret – Issue 35 – Volume 1

The Essex County Field Naturalists’ Club continues to help monitor Chimney Swifts in Essex County by searching for new nesting sites, spring roost monitoring, and Swift Night Out events. This article summarizes the results of 2018.

The Chimney Swift is currently listed as a Threatened species in Ontario, which means the species is not endangered, but is likely to become endangered if steps are not taken to address factors threatening it.

According to Bird Studies Canada, “the Chimney Swift Canadian population has declined by 95% since 1968. Their habitat is being lost as buildings are modernized and chimneys are capped, steel-lined, or torn down. Other factors, such as severe weather events and changes in insect abundance, are likely also affecting swifts.”

In 2018, eight sites in Essex County were surveyed during the annual spring roost monitoring project. According to the 2018, Ontario SwiftWatch Report published by Bird Studies Canada, “Long-term monitoring at roost sites helps our understanding of local and regional population changes. Monitoring as many roosts as possible during the same time each year will help determine whether specific events or factors might be influencing swift numbers (e.g., drought, cold spring, or conservation actions). Roost monitoring is crucial for identifying chimneys regularly used by high numbers of swifts during migration for stewardship and protection. It is also helpful for tracking the success of these stewardship and protection efforts, and for identifying new threats as they arise.”

Five members of ECFNC volunteered to count roosting swifts on five count nights: May 17, May 23, May 27, May 31, and June 4. These sites included three in Kingsville and three in Windsor. Additional volunteers in Leamington monitored two additional sites. The sites with the highest number of roosting swifts so far identified include the Epworth Church in Kingsville (high count of 319 on May 17, 2019), The Chelsea Hotel in Windsor, and the Walkerville Collegiate Institute. The mid-May date is an optional early count done by Essex County and other southern Ontario locations, which are the first regions to see Chimney Swifts arrive during spring migration. Over the last 2 years, some of our highest counts have been tallied on this early date.

My sincere thanks go out to ECFNC members Jonathan Choquette, Jennifer Nantais, Paula O’Rourke, and Nancy Pancheshan for their continued volunteer efforts with swift monitoring in Essex County.

Number of Chimney Swifts Entering Chimney per site from the 2018 Spring Roost Monitoring Results

Chimney Site May 17 May 23May 27May 31June 4
Kingsville – Epworth Church north chimney73374
Kingsville – Epworth Church south chimney3121071347455
Kingsville – Epworth Church southwest chimney00202
Leamington – old train station, Marlborough St W53
Leamington – old Leamington District High School, Talbot St W3620
Windsor – Our Lady of Assumption Church, McEwan Ave46422
Windsor – The Chelsea Hotel, Pelissier St135
Windsor – Walkerville Collegiate Institute, Richmond Street77123118125101

On September 9, a Swift Night Out was held at the Walkerville Collegiate Institute and 20 members of the community came out to participate and learn about swifts. This site has been known to be a significant fall roosting site in the past, which is why it was chosen for the event. Only a few Chimney Swifts were observed (likely due to cold temperatures, wind, and rain), but Ontario SwiftWatch coordinator, Liz Purves, was in attendance and was able to provide everyone with information on Chimney Swift migration, behaviour, breeding, threats to the species, and local and national conservation efforts.

ECFNC and members of the public watching for Chimney Swifts during the Swift Night Out in Windsor. Photo by Liz Purves.

In 2019, our goal is to continue with spring roost monitoring at sites across the county and to identify new breeding sites and fall roosting sites. We also hope to engage with landowners for stewardship opportunities to ensure current nesting and roosting sites are protected as well. Finally, we are planning to hold another Swift Night out in the spring so stay tuned!

If you are interested in volunteering with Ontario SwiftWatch in Essex County, please contact me at hattjeremy@hotmail.comor Liz Purves at We especially need more volunteers for spring roost monitoring and for identifying roosting and nesting sites across the county.

Current non-private swift roosting/nest sites identified in Windsor and Essex County:

711 McEwan Ave – Our Lady of Assumption Church
1385 University Ave W – Church of Ascension
176 University Ave W
119 Chatham Street W
100 University Ave W
327 Ouellette Ave – Basil Court
511 Pelissier Street – The Chelsea
1164 Ouellette Ave
2100 Richmond Street – Walkerville Collegiate Institute
10150 Riverside Dr E – Old Brewery

130 Sandwich St S – General Amherst High School (south chimney)
48 Richmond Street – CIBC
317 Ramsay St – Christ Anglican Church

540 Old Tecumseh Rd – PureCycle Spin and Yoga Studio

2651 County Rd 12 – Colchester North Public School

56 Division Street – Epworth United Church
1 Main Street – CIBC
11 Main Street
12 Pearl St. E – May May Inn

125 Talbot Street West – old Leamington District High School
Marlborough St W – old train station
51 Talbot Street E
69 Talbot Street E
89 Talbot Street E
3 Nelson Street
12 Nelson Street
9 John Street – United Church of Canada
29 John Street – Leamington Post Office
7 Clark Street W – Leamington OPP
107 Erie Street N

Stoney Point
7119-7505 Tecumseh Rd – old church

Pelee Island
1073 West Shore Rd – Pelee Island Heritage Centre