Ways to Learn about Endangered Chimney Swifts
Chimney swifts are a threatened species in Canada and an endangered species in Nova Scotia.
Fewer than 1000 individual birds live in the Maritime Provinces. The population in Nova Scotia is declining rapidly. So says the Species at Risk website.
Historically, chimney swifts built their nests in hollow, old trees. As humans cut down the trees, they moved their nesting sites into chimneys.
Their current habitat still includes old hollow trees, but now they can also be found in chimneys (active or abandoned), barns (more and more being discovered), air shafts and silos.
Often Chimney Swifts are living in chimneys of abandoned buildings, as was the case in Wolfville. When Chimney Swifts were discovered living there, the old factory was torn down, leaving the chimney behind for the swifts. This was the creation of the Robie Tufts Nature Centre.
In addition to protecting the swifts’ habitat and providing people with the opportunity to observe their spectacular antics, this interpretative centre seeks to promote awareness of and interest in local natural history and the environment.
To help bring awareness to the plight of the Chimney Swifts, the Blomidon Naturalists’ Society in conjunction with the Maritimes Swiftwatch program of Bird Studies Canada and the Nova Scotia Bird Society puts on an annual event called a Swift Night Out.
People gather in Wolfville on the last weekend in July to learn about the Chimney Swifts, and then to watch the birds circle around the chimney before finally making their descent into the chimney. It is quite a spectacle to watch, even if you don’t come to the Swift Night Out. Roosting timecan be anywhere from 30 min before sunset to a half hour after. This is usually around 9pm in the summer months.
This year, there was a kid zone where children could learn about the Chimney Swifts, too.
First was the Chimney Swift obstacle course. Children had to get from one end to the other, encountering some of the dangers that a Chimney Swift might encounter on its migration. These dangers include:
Not finding insects
Chimney sweepers who have brushed away their nests
Predators like foxes and racoons
Forest Fires, logging/forestry
The kids loved this activity! It was a great hands-on way to learn about the Chimney Swift!
I set up a craft table.
Children could make their own flying Chimney Swift cut from black construction paper and put together with glue and tape.
This craft was a bit tricky for younger children, so they needed a lot of guidance. But, it worked well as children were flitting between the obstacle course, the educational talks and the craft table.
Take time to educate yourself and your family about these incredible birds!
Hope to see you next year at a Swift Night Out!