Mersey Tobeatic Research Institute (MTRI) : Institut de recherche du Mersey Tobeatic


MTRI is a non-profit co-operative with a mandate to promote sustainable use of natural resources and biodiversity conservation in the Southwest Nova Biosphere Reserve and beyond through research, education, and the operation of a field station.

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Backyard Biodiversity

Backyard Biodiversity

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Chimney Swift Project

Why are we studying Chimney Swifts?

Chimney Swifts are listed as Threatened in Canada and Endangered in Nova Scotia. Their decrease in numbers is likely the result of the use of pesticides to kill insects and the decline of hollow trees which are both their nesting and roosting sites. As a result Chimney Swifts have adapted to using chimneys to roost and nest in; however, the decline in suitable chimneys (due to new building regulations and insurance regulations) may also be impacting the population. For this reason it is important that we monitor Chimney Swift populations and encourage others to monitor and report additional sightings. The videos below shows swifts entering a chimney at dusk.




"Swift" Walks 

As a part of our monitoring and research work, we are interested in learning more about where Chimney Swifts nest. The "Swift" Walks are a way to educate the public about what swifts look, sound and act like. Through this increased awareness of these special birds, we hope that more nesting sites can be identified. 

The Swift Walks are taking place in 2017 on July 11 in Annapolis Royal, July 13 in Lunenburg, July 20 in Shelburne and July 24 in Liverpool. For more information, please email or call 902-682-2371.

Check out this radio interview from July 11, 2017, about the Swift Walks.


McGowan Lake Chimney Swift Monitoring

Aerial insectivorous bird populations have been in sharp decline for several decades in North America.  The Chimney swift was listed as Threatened in 2007 by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) and under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA) in 2008.  In Nova Scotia, several well known roost sites have been informally monitored for many years by a number of dedicated volunteers.  In 2010,  multiple stakeholders came together, along with experts from Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba, to identify gaps and needs for Chimney swift recovery in the Maritime Provinces and to bring current monitoring in line with other Canadian programs.  The result was the Maritime Swiftwatch program initiated by Bird Studies Canada.  This project aims to systematically monitor population levels at known roost sites, to learn more about nesting ecology of Chimney swifts and increase awareness of Chimney swifts. 


Project objectives


McGowan Lake roost with data logger (Photo Credit: Brad Toms)



2014 Results


2015 Results


Count data from McGowan Chimney Swift roost 2011-2015.



Minimum Count

Maximum Count

 Average (n)




80 (12)




56 (10)




132 (14)




70 (8)*




137 (6)




177 (10)

 *Two counts (1bird and 2 birds) took place in August likely after the roost was no longer in use.

# One count excluded because birds entered early in bad weather and could be heard inside chimney.


Years of data