As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Thursday, 3 October 2019

Monroe's swifts stayed away this year due to predator threat

Published September 25, 2019

MONROE — Predatory merlins have frightened away the Vaux’s swifts from their popular roosting spot in Frank Wagner Elementary’s chimney.

Now the question is whether the birds will ever come back.

Their practical no-show this year is evident in observers’ nightly logs: Zero. Zero. Zero.

No swifts entered the chimney starting from Aug. 26 through most of September. The numbers plummeted after the first night’s count on Aug. 21.

Usually, a few thousand swifts would dive in each night. Last fall’s cumulative count at Wagner surpassed 140,000.

The Vaux’s swifts are winging down the West Coast, moving from Canada to Mexico. They’ll do the reverse in the spring. The little birds cover 150 or more miles in a day before collectively swooping into select chimneys and trees for nighttime rest.

“The swifts have abandoned the chimney. This is serious,” said Larry Schwitters, the nation’s pre-eminent Vaux’s swifts expert, with clear disappointment.

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