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Bird Studies Canada on “Swift Watch”

UFO’s over Downtown Picton?
On Wednesday nights this summer, people with binoculars roamed the streets of downtown Picton.  They were seen with their necks crooked, pointing skyward and muttering “there’s another one”.  What were they pointing at?

No, not spacecraft, but Chimney Swifts.  A Chimney Swift is a small dark brown swallow-like bird with a distinctive chipping call and crescent shaped wings and almost no tail visible in flight.  Deprived of their historical nesting sites in large hollow trees, today they primarily roost and nest in chimneys.  Currently Bird Studies Canada is conducting a province wide “Swift Watch” to find out where the swifts are and how many there are.

The Canadian Chimney Swift population has declined by almost 30% over the last 13.5 years. This dramatic and rapid population decline has led to the recent listing of Chimney Swifts by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) as a federally threatened species. Decreases in suitable roosting /nesting habitat, a decline of insect availability, and an increase in unpredictable weather are among the several suspected causes of the population decline.

In Ontario, Chimney Swifts arrive in late-April to early-May, building nests of loosely woven sticks secured with the bird’s glue-like saliva. On average, four to five eggs are laid per nest and incubated for a period of 10 to 20 days. After 30 days the young are fledged, and by early- to mid-summer adults and young will flock together in large roosts. Towards the end of the summer, roosting individuals will congregate for their migration to the upper Amazon basin in South America, where they will remain until the following spring.

Chimney Swifts are not the only aerial insectivores (birds that forage for insects in the air) that are experiencing population decline.  The recently published “State of Canada’s Birds 2012” notes that “aerial insectivores are declining more steeply than any other group of birds” and “ in the [ Lower Great Lakes St Lawrence] region Chimney Swift, Purple Martin and Bank Swallow populations have all declined by 95% since 1970.”

Data from the Wolfe Island Industrial Wind Turbine project indicates that more aerial insectivore type birds were killed by the turbines than birds from any other group. The data presented by the State of Canada’s Birds and the experience at Wolfe Island prove that we must not allow the killing to continue in Prince Edward County.  Wind turbines installations in the South Shore IBA will cause further decline in a group of birds that we cannot afford to lose.  We must stop McGuinty’s plan to destroy our natural habitat at Ostrander Point and throughout the IBA.

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The Prince Edward County Field Naturalists, founded in 1997, is an affiliate of Ontario Nature. It provides an educational forum dedicated to the study, promotion, appreciation and conservation of the flora and fauna within Prince Edward County. The public is welcome at the meetings held on the last Tuesday of the month from September to May, except December, at Bloomfield Town Hall. Guest speakers introduce a variety of nature related topics. All members are encouraged to participate at meetings by sharing their experiences and observations. Regularly scheduled field trips in the vicinity offer members the opportunity to experience various habitats. Membership in PECFN is open to all. Contact: Prince Edward County Field Naturalists, P.O. Box 477, Bloomfield, Ontario K0K 1G0 Or Cheryl Anderson 613-471-1096

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  1. David Norman says:

    Ken, I stated what I know to be true… and this is only generalized reference… the details are far more condemning. All you seem to offer is trite sarcasm, a pretense to a knowledge and understanding over others.

  2. Ken Globe says:

    And now you’ve tarred the majority of the farmers in the county with the same brush… you’ll be a popular person down on Cold Storage Road. I take it you grow your own food, or only get organic. You must heat your home with all the hot air you’ve been spewing on this site for the past year or so.

  3. David Norman says:

    Ken, I do not understand the nature of your challenge? What I’m calling for is honesty and transparency. Lets just cut the bull$h!t and say it straight out. The vast majority of farms in the county produce forced crops, with heavy applications of insecticides, fertilizers and herbicides. These are dependent upon fossil fuels, as are the farming methods, the transportation and the processing. The insecticides in particular are known carcinogens. Livestock farming is the most significant contributor to green house gases. If a farmer wants to lease out land to Industrial Wind Turbine development to make money why not just say so. Why dress all this up with deceitful propaganda?… its not going to hide or change the harm that’s being done. I’ve just only scratched the surface here… I’ve spent 40+ years studying, researching and writing about these issues, how about you?

  4. Ken Globe says:

    So David, put your money where your mouth is and become a farmer…

  5. David Norman says:

    Doris, I suspect that with steeply rising corn commodity prices due to the more severe drought crop loses in the American mid-west, that there will be an equally correlated rise in the number of deaths of “corn eating Crows”, “illegal alien Starlings”, and Red Wing Black Birds. I would hazard a guess that each bushel of corn will result in at least one bird death. Do you recall a year back when in a couple of places in the U.S. tens of thousands of Starlings and other crop pest birds were dropping dead… they were discovered to have been poisoned for exactly this reason, to protect corn crops. All of the rhetorical environmental/stewardship crap you hear from Industrial Wind Turbine loving farmers is just bull$h!t.

  6. Mark says:

    I have a special friend who comes out of Harmony House each evening for a short flight around Picton and she purposely drops a little on my deck. For V, I have an old heavy duty stick that just might get her in the air! LOl

  7. Beth says:

    Thanks Doris, I’ve gotten some chuckles out of this thread. I personally just twist my bedknob.

  8. Ken Globe says:

    If the broom fits…

  9. Doris Lane says:

    Maybe we could dress up and parade down Main street in a black uniform and riding a broomstick and sing
    “we are the crows and we eat the corn”

  10. David Norman says:

    Ladies, I think the Nimbus 2000 (racing broom) model is still available. For the more risque among you, Mattel makes a vibrating version of this model. We could get together for a good game of Quidditch or maybe just harass all the Muggles driving around in their cars.

  11. Marnie says:

    It will also become mandatory for us to file a flight plan.

  12. Doris Lane says:

    “Broom Riding Course”—maybe Dalton will teach the course and show us how to get around the IWT’s

  13. Lori Cairns says:

    @David, Marnie and Doris,

    You guys are hilarious.

    Better not let Dalton know when you get those broomsticks. He’ll want to tax them, licence them and make you pay for a broom riding course.

  14. Lori Cairns says:

    So are most of the people in Canada.

  15. virginia says:

    info for interest: starlings are a non-native species brought from Europe—

  16. Marnie says:

    Good point, David. I never thought of this and I’ll bet Doris didn’t either. It seems there is danger everywhere these days.

  17. David Norman says:

    Want to understand the real nature of the Fowl Cuisinart’s that are Industrial Wind Turbines? I urge folks to read the following linked article, PTC as Wildlife Terminator (environmental reasons to clean out tax code) by Paul Driessen;

  18. David Norman says:

    Doris & Marnie, if you’re going to be cruising around on your broomsticks I suggest you don’t wear black and stay clear of the corn fields.

  19. m york says:

    Different topic here but found this very amusing…. Lately in the papers it has been said that the County needs to promote from within, we have the skilled staff here and it keeps the tax dollars here as well. Well the two new supervisors for water and wastewater are
    1) a gentlemen from the Bath area (or somewhere over there) he has been an employee for approx. 6 months they say
    2) a gentlemen who is a resident of the community and has been an employee for about approx. six years. However he has been off and still is upon recieving this promotion on sick leave, estimated time of recovery,unknown ???? Wow how is this for what to hell is going on in this COUNTY???????????

  20. Marnie says:

    Where did you buy that broomstick, Doris? Given the current state of some of our roads it is no treat to drive on them. They have not seen many of our tax dollars lately. Broomsticks are starting to make a lot of sense.

  21. Both European Starlings and Red-winged Blackbirds are among the handful of unprotected species, so legally, they can be shot. I am not saying it is the right thing because it is a complete waste of time. It is the same mindset as we saw at Presqu’ile Park when 6,000 cormorants were culled. Populations are based on carrying capacity. If the carrying capacity (available food)dictates that a given area can support X-number of birds, then that’s what will be there. Unless that program is carried out every year, on both sides of Lake Ontario, surplus birds (young of the year)will simply move in and occupy that space until the carrying capacity is reached again. It’s a mind game. Cormorants, blackbirds and starlings are shot, the public and landowners feel good because “something” is being done, when, in fact, absolutely nothing is achieved, except wasting time and money. If food is present……they will come, be fruitful and multiply. Pure and simple. Grade five biology. The blackbirds are migrating. The 25 shot today will be replaced by 250 migrants tomorrow.

  22. Doris Lane says:

    Do you not have to have a license to shoot things,we cannot just go popping things off at will
    Its like someone shot a dog a couple of years ago because he saw something move in his .garden.
    Its not safe to be outsometimes–neither man or beast
    I meant to tell Beth in another post that I don’t use the roads and sidewalks much–I ride on my broomstick

  23. David Norman says:

    What the hell is the point!!!… I watched today as two fellows in the corn field (animal grain feed)across the road from me blasted scores of Starlings and Red Wing Blackbirds out of the air with shotguns. They could have used “corn poppers” rather than killing them. The real irony is that they’re ostensibly protecting a crop which they’ll then use to feed other sentient creatures which they’ll then kill as well. While disheartened, I will not give up fighting this… it has only made me more determined.

  24. David Norman says:

    Your quote; “Data from the Wolfe Island Industrial Wind Turbine project indicates that more aerial insectivore type birds were killed by the turbines than birds from any other group” highlights the hypocrisy of the Ontario Government’s draft plan to conserve biodiversity, “Biodiversity: It’s in Our Nature” ( A telling quote from this report is on page 15 and states “ The cumulative impact of a series of small habitat losses can be significant.”
    This report is still up for comment until August 6, 2012

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