Wisconsin Wildlife Update: Bird And Bat Migration

Air Date:
Heard On The Larry Meiller Show

The sudden change of seasons has birds on the move, but they are not alone. Bats are also starting their fall migration. Larry Meiller gets an update on what our Wisconsin wildlife is up to, plus, answers to listener questions.

Featured in this Show

  • Bird Ecologists Turn To Public For Help Tracking Chimney Swifts

    As the season changes and the weather turns cooler, the chimney swift will soon join other migratory birds heading south to spend the winter in warmer climates. Given that the swift’s migration season — which lasts from now through the end of September — is a prime time to spot the species, bird ecologists are asking for citizens to help them track the birds.

    Jamie Nack, a wildlife outreach specialist in the Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said that chimney swift populations have been declining steadily over the past decades. As a result, the the Wisconsin Chimney Swift Working Group is asking for citizen help in providing information on swift sightings, as well as locations of nests and roosts.

    Nack described chimney swifts as “cigar-shaped” birds that are blackish-gray in color, “with a pretty stubby tail.” Incredibly, according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, a chimney swift “spends almost its entire life airborne. When it lands, it can’t perch — it clings to vertical walls inside chimneys or in hollow trees or caves.”

    Nack said the swifts have increasingly been using manmade structures like chimneys, and not natural ones like trees, for summer homes due to habitat loss. Fortunately, those chimneys tend not to be used by humans during the warmer months, so the swifts can safely build nests and raise young within.

    A Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources press release gives details on how to report chimney swift sightings. It also assures people that high levels of bird expertise are not needed to help:

    “You don’t have to be an experienced birder or trained researcher to enjoy the evening acrobatic displays of the swift,” said Bill Mueller, director of the Western Great Lakes Bird & Bad Observatory. “The sight of dozens, hundreds or in some cases even thousands of chimney swifts going to roost for the night in chimneys can be an exhilarating spectacle.”

    Citizen reports can be made through the eBird website. As the DNR notes in its press release:

    “When prompted for location, map your roost site to an exact address or point. Be sure to include in the ‘Chimney Swift’ comments section the general weather conditions, time when the first and last swifts entered the roost and type of building — residence, school, church, business, etc.”

    According to the release, participants are asked to also send the same information to the Working Group: “along with name, address, email, date and exact time of your survey at the roost to Bill Mueller, Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory, wpmueller1947@gmail.com, or 1242 S. 45th St., Milwaukee, WI 53214.”

Episode Credits

  • Larry Meiller Host
  • Judith Siers-Poisson Producer
  • Jamie Nack Guest
  • David Drake Guest

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