Queen's University

Chimney swifts return to Queen's

 
2009-06-05

Chimney swifts have returned to roost in the Fleming Hall chimney for the first time since it was capped in the early 1990s.
The chimney swift is native to the area, but the bird has been hard to find in recent years. Recently listed as threatened by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, swift populations have declined by 95 per cent in southern Canada since the 1960s.
On June 1, research technician Chris Grooms was reviewing a video of the chimney from the night before and was amazed to see a number of birds flying down the chimney to roost. That night, a group gathered outside of Fleming Hall to watch for the birds, and saw as many as 100 swooping into the chimney for the night.
Mr. Grooms has been working with a dedicated team to create a welcoming environment for the swifts, which generally return to the area each April. The team uncapped the chimney on the roof of the Jemmett Wing of Fleming Hall and created several artificial chimneys that they hoped would lure the birds back to campus this spring. “Swift cams” have been on the roof since April, and Mr. Grooms has been reviewing the footage regularly.
Mr. Grooms says that this project is a great example of how individuals and organizations like the Kingston Field Naturalists and Queen’s faculty and staff can work together successfully on conservation projects. “I think we can safely say that we have now permanently restored the swift roosting spectacle to campus.”
The birds generally roost between 8:15 and 9 pm, and are easy to see from the ground.

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