Want to count roosting swifts as they gather before their fall migration? Get some friends together and help raise awareness about these amazing birds! The information below may be shared at a Swift Night Out.
What is a ‘Swift Night Out’?
Swift Night Out is a continent-wide effort to raise awareness about Chimney Swifts and their roosting sites. It was started in 2001 by Paul and Georgean Kyle in Austin, TX, who have rehabilitated and studied swifts for several decades. (Circulate copies of the Kyles’ two books, Chimney Swifts and Chimney Swift Towers.) More information about the Kyles and Swift Night Out can be found at their website at
After swifts have finished raising their young, they gather in groups at communal roosting chimneys before beginning their fall migration to the upper Amazon basin of Peru, Ecuador, Chile, and Brazil.
Like many neotropical migrants (birds that breed in North America but also spend the winter in Central and South America), their population is in serious decline, and they are considered a ‘threatened’ species in Canada. There are probably many factors contributing to this decline. The factors likely include changes in food-insect availability, possibly due to pesticide use; habitat loss on their wintering grounds; and loss of suitable nesting sites.
Questions to ask kids and adults:
How do you think Chimney Swifts got their name?
How fast can a swift fly? (It’s capable of 100 miles per hour, although normal flight is 18 -30 miles per hour.)
Can you name a bird found in Wisconsin that flies faster than a swift? (Peregrine Falcon – it can attain speeds of over 200 miles per hour in a dive.)
Do swifts dive head-first into a chimney or flutter and drop down tail first? (both)
What’s a great name for a group of swifts? (‘a sweep of swifts”)
-Wisconsin Wildcards (two on Swifts): one on the bird itself and one on its habitat
-The Kyles’ 4 page handout available on their website (www.chimneyswifts.org) – you can download and print it..
VISUAL AIDS –
-The Kyles’ books, Chimney Swifts and Chimney Swift Towers, may be ordered on their website
-Pics from the internet of the inside of a chimney with swifts, close-ups of swifts, etc
Click this link to view videos of Swift Night Out events.