Swift Night Out Aug/ Sept. 2023

Woodland Dunes and the Wisconsin Chimney Swift Working Group are asking bird watchers and local community members to help count swifts entering chimneys at dusk from late August through September, depending on where you are in the state. (Later August to early September is good for the Two Rivers/Manitowoc area.) This is part of a continent-wide program called Swift Night Out held to raise awareness about this declining bird species.

How can you help? Anyone can watch swifts “drop” into chimneys just prior to dusk as they roost for the night. All you have to do is count birds as they enter. 

Tips on how and where to look for Chimney Swifts

Identification: Chimney Swifts have slender bodies with long, curved wings and short, stubby tails (they look like a flying cigar or boomerang). They fly rapidly with nearly constant wing beats, often twisting from side to side. They also give a distinctive, high chittering call while in flight. They are the only bird that will drop into chimneys to roost for the night.

Because Chimney Swifts congregate in communal roosts before migrating in late summer/fall, it’s easy to count them.
For a data tracking sheet, email: nancyn@woodlanddunes.org.

How to count:

  • Look for tall brick chimneys that are uncapped.
  • Watch to see where swifts are flying over and congregating in an area.
  • Observe the roost starting about 20 minutes before sunset until 10 minutes after the last swift enters the chimney.
  • Count (or estimate) the number of swifts as they enter the chimney. It’s useful to count in groups of five or 10 when they enter quickly in large numbers.
  • Enter your data on eBird if possible and add #swiftwi in the species “details” section. This helps researchers quickly track swift activity in Wisconsin.
Places to check locally: (please add any chimneys you may find on your own. Documenting these sites is important to help this declining species)
Two Rivers: Two Rivers Community Center- 1710 W. Park St., Two Rivers Utility – 1415 Lake St., Former Hansen Florist Bldg. – 3000 Forest Ave., Christian Center Thrift Store – 1816 Washington St, and the Heroes Venture Arcade – 2022 Washington Street.  
Manitowoc:  Old Saint Francis of Xavier School, 1416 Grand Ave., Neighborhood of Ryan’s on York, old Laetrille factory -15th & Marshall street, old Richter Vinegar plant 1819 S. 9th St., 1402 Clark St.

For more information about chimney swifts and how to help protect them in our state, go to https://www.wiswifts.org.