Community Swift Night Out is back this year, and it’s the perfect socially-distanced way to participate in Houston Bird Week 2020! At dusk, Chimney Swifts begin circling roosting locations. They then swoop into their roosting locations and can be counted as they enter the chimneys.
Chimney Swifts are small, grey-brown birds found in Houston between March and October. They are best identified by their “cigar” shaped silhouette, short/tapered tails, and chittering calls. Chimney Swifts are considered vulnerable on the IUCN Red List as a result of their population decline of around 72% between 1966 and 2015, in part due to the decrease in nesting habitat.
Chimney Swifts, like their name suggests, nest primarily in chimneys and other man-made, low-light structures with vertical surfaces (e.g. air vents, wells, or smoke stacks), though they will also nest in hollowed-out trees. Modern chimney designs and the movement towards capping chimneys has resulted in fewer nesting sites for these swifts. Logging of old-growth forests has also reduced the availability of natural nest sites.
Swift Night Out is a community effort to help figure out where Chimney Swifts are in Houston and monitor populations long-term. We’re aiming to cover all of the known Chimney Swift roosts across the city, from large silo-style chimneys to specially-designed Chimney Swift towers, and we need your help! At dusk on September 20, community scientists across the city will count the number of swifts as they enter the varying roost locations.
If you’re new to counting swifts and would like more information, please send Anna Vallery an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our community count will be held on Sunday, September 20, 2020. A count is short and sweet (around 30 minutes at dusk), but can make a real difference in understanding the behavior of this unique species!
We’ll spread out across the city at various sites where we think Chimney Swifts may be roosting—at large silo-style chimneys and in specially-designed Chimney Swift towers.
Constructed Chimney Swift Towers
- Ed White Elementary School, 1708 Les Talley Drive
- Hogg Bird Sanctuary, 1 Wescott Street
- Houston Zoo, 6200 Hermann Park Drive *Zoo staff
- Kleb Woods, 20303 Draper Road
- Exploration Green Swift Tower – Pines, 29.562419, -95.120885. Best parking is off Diana Lane at the parking lot. You can see and walk to both towers.
- Exploration Green Swift Tower – Oaks, 29.563846, -95.121834
- Nature Discovery Center, 7112 Newcastle
- Seabrook Tower #1, Close to Todville where Pine Gully goes under the road/bridge
- Seabrook Tower #2, In Seabrook Wildlife Refuge and Park,
- White Oak Parkway, 1720 White Oak Drive
- Willow Waterhole, 5201 S. Willow
- Woodland Park, 212 Parkview
- Bellaire Residence
Established Sites at Silos/Large Chimneys
- Pershing Middle School, 3838 Bluebonnet (Stella Link entrance)
- St. Paul’s Church, 5501 Main St.
- Whole Foods Market Bellaire, 4004 Bellaire