Several Audubon chapters in North Carolina are involved in Chimney Swift conservation and education projects with events coming up this month as Swifts assemble in large flocks prior to their fall migration.
- If you're in the Winston-Salem area, you can join Forsyth Audubon for a Swift Watch on September 15 where you can see thousands of Chimney Swifts gathering to roost.
- Wake Audubon and NC Museum of Natural Sciences are hosting a Science Cafe on Chimney Swifts in Raleigh on September 20.
- And members of High Country Audubon visited Lees McCrae College's campus on September 1st to see the annual chimney swift roosting spectacular. This year, an information table was set up and other activities made it truly an "event." Chapter member Bill Ehmig summarized: "A very successful evening, lots of swifts, a genial and large crowd and we got a great talk about chimney swifts by the Director of the Blue Ridge Animal Rehab group at Lees -McCrae. We also got to see her and some of her students release some chimney swifts that they had raised from just post hatching. All in all, a nice outing." See some pictures of the evening here.
Wake Audubon named the Chimney Swift the Bird of the Year for 2011 and 2012, and if you read this description from their website, you can see why there's so much interest in this amazing species:
During winter this bird abandons the skies of eastern North America to spend its days coursing the air above the Amazonian rainforest. But come early April the Chimney Swift will once again sweep through the skies above our neighborhoods gleaning insects on the wing. Swifts are in a Family of birds called Apodidae, which roughly translates to "without feet". Of course swifts do have feet, but the capabilities of their feet are limited. Chimney Swifts cannot perch, cannot walk, cannot hop- their feet are designed for clinging to a vertical surface.
Before the arrival of European colonists Chimney Swifts nested and roosted in large hollow trees. In 1682 a swift was founding nesting for the first time in a chimney at a colonist's cabin in Maine. This event forever changed the relationship between this species and people. September is an exciting time to view our bird of the year. Chimney Swifts roost in large chimneys as they meet up and migrate south for the winter. Click here to see a video of Chimney Swifts circling over downtown Raleigh and entering the large chimney of the Commerce Building. Video is thanks to the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.
posted by Curtis Smalling