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  • 1. What lives downtown and eats 1,000 flying insects each day?
  • 2.
    • children less connected with nature
    • need for in-town pocket parks that re-connect people with nature
    • declining awareness that local actions can make a difference
    • few inexpensive opportunities to provide lasting benefits for declining species populations
    • capitalizing on nature based tourism trends in local approach to economic development
    Some Current Conservation Challenges in Brunswick:
  • 3. A rare, and challenging opportunity to protect a publicly accessible natural phenomenon
  • 4. Roosting vs. Nesting? Roosts are used by flocks often numbering in the hundreds during migration and are critical predator-free stop over sites. Have been shown to be a key limiting factor in species conservation. Nesting typically takes place in smaller residential chimneys. Usually only 1 or sometimes 2 pairs will nest together.
  • 5. How rare is this opportunity?
    • In all of Maritime Provinces less than 10 roosts remain
    • In ME probably less than 40 roosts remain, none of this size (use) known, none are protected
    • For comparison
    • In ME there are 200+/- shorebird roosts, 81 that receive formal protection by MDEP
  • 6. How challenging is this opportunity?
    • Most conservation $$$ for habitat protection buys acreage
    • Most conservation groups have little interest in built (urban) landscape
    • Plight of chimney swifts is not well known even by most conservation groups
    • Many people assume because birds spend time in developed areas, must be common, or at “unnaturally” high populations
    = a true conservation conundrum
  • 7.  
  • 8. A bird truly built for life on the wing. Only stop flying while on nest or at night roost.
  • 9. Many adaptations to exploit a niche that is truly their own.
  • 10. Swifts are monogamous returning to nest site year after year, typical clutch size = 4 eggs, on average 3 fledge per nest
  • 11.
    • Preferred nest and roost habitat:
    • Proximate to large water bodies
    • 95% w/in 1km of water; OBHS is 2,600 feet from river
    • Given mostly aerial habits hard to tie to any given habitat type other than where structures for roosting/nesting occur
  • 12.
    • Specific nesting site selection criteria:
    • Nesting chimneys/trees >12” interior diameter
    • Rough interior
    • Preferred chimneys pre-date 1960
    • In Canada, reported that most chimneys will not be suitable within 10 years
    • Specific roosting site selection criteria:
    • Chimneys/trees >24” interior diameter, larger the better
    • Rough interior
    • Preferred chimneys pre-date 1960
    • Best remaining in commercial and institutional buildings
    • In Canada >60% in religious institutions
  • 13. Population trends: Many eastern US aerial insectivores have shown significant 30 year decline
  • 14. Swifts have shown the fastest decline Since the 1960’s global chimney swift populations have declined 44%
  • 15. In Maine only 4-6% of forest currently late successional stage (100-200 yrs) Most industrial forest managed on short rotation that does not favor old trees How is this happening? 1) Loss of natural habitat
  • 16. 2) Switch to adopted habitat
    • First observed using chimneys 1672 in Maine
    • By 1812 Wilson noted nesting limited to chimneys in PA
    • By 1840 Audubon recorded most nests in chimneys in KY
    “ American Swallow” from Catesby’s 1771 Natural History
  • 17. 3) Loss of adopted habitat Based on current chimney upgrade trends, few nesting chimneys, if any, will be present in Canada in 30 years
  • 18. Have chimneys resulted in artificially high numbers of birds?
    • Surveys of late successional forests in NY show average of seven >20-inch diameter swift eligible snags per acre
    • Based on US census data and estimates of chimney distribution per acre, available artificial habitat is 2 orders of magnitude less
  • 19. 4) Climate change
    • Possible factors for swifts:
    • Increase in hurricane activity
    • Increase in precipitation during breeding season
    • Likely shifts in prey abundance
    • Many folks upgrading heating systems
    • Best we may be able to do is to maintain functional habitat
  • 20. 2007 Assessment and Status Report on the Chimney Swift
    • Nationwide population = 12,000
      • Quebec = 2,500 (Quebec City 553; Montreal 353)
      • Maritimes = 900
    • Population down 30% in last 3 generations (13.5 yrs)
    • Range has declined 1/3 over same period
    • Overall 7.8% decrease/yr 1968-2005 (95% drop over period)
  • 21. Maine’s Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy (Wildlife Action Plan) Identifies 213 Species of Greatest Conservation Need; Lists Chimney Swift as a Priority Species of Greatest Conservation Need in SWAP; Under MESA, Chimney Swift listed as a species of Special Concern eligible for threatened status due to 42% decline in 20 years Maine Birder Band
  • 22. Why should we care? Chimney swifts commonly feed at dusk when mosquitoes are becoming most active. Chimney swifts eat 1/3 of their weight in flying insects such as mosquitoes, biting flies and termites every day. A nest of four nestlings will be fed as many as 12,000 insects daily.
  • 23. OBHS roost site is the most active documented in Maine What we have locally
  • 24. The challenge ahead
    • OBHS to be torn down starting Spring 2009
    • School Board Building Subcommittee working with PDT Architects on new school
    • MMAS members have been working to build support for maintaining a functional swift roost as part of plans
    • Funding and show of support needed
  • 25. What are others doing? Preservation of existing sites preferred
  • 26. What are others doing? Robie Tufts Nature Centre, Wolfville NS Preserved old dairy chimney Listed as #21 in the top 50 things to do in Nova Scotia 2007
  • 27. What are others doing? Replacements:
    • Many examples out there
    • Specifications are key! Must extend above roof line +/- 20ft and have 36” x 36” interior minimum
    • Temperature shown to be a factor. Maintaining 55F key.
    • Have replacement roost ready upon birds’ spring return
    • Swifts don’t show any architectural style preference…
  • 28. A Tremendous Educational Opportunity!
    • Many schools have incorporated A Swift Night Out and species ecology into curricula
    • Many schools have installed security cameras (<$500) in roosts for remote in-classroom observation
    • Swift roosts are well-visited tourist attractions from New Brunswick to New Caney, TX
    • Brunswick can lead the way for swift conservation in Maine!
  • 29. MMAS efforts to date?
    • Roost monitoring and Swift Night Out coordinated during Summer 2008
    • To date we have presented to Town Council and received a unanimous vote of support to pursue funding;
    • We have presented to the School Board Building Committee to address concerns;
    • We received grant support from MOHF, and have submitted to Bowdoin College Common Good
    • Will need to rely on private fund raising if this project is to come to fruition
  • 30.  
  • 31.  
  • 32.
    • We encourage everyone to become part of this unique project.
    • Merrymeeting Audubon Society
    • PO Box 544
    • Bath, ME 04530.
  • 33.