[Tweeters] Black Swifts

rccarl at pacbell.net rccarl at pacbell.net
Tue Aug 24 06:49:29 PDT 2010


In California, Black swifts nest in oceanside cliffs, why not the same on the Olympic Coast?  Short flight to the interior.


RCC

Richard Carlson

Full-time Birder, Biker and Rotarian

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--- On Tue, 8/24/10, Larry Schwitters <lpatters at ix.netcom.com> wrote:

From: Larry Schwitters <lpatters at ix.netcom.com>
Subject: [Tweeters] Black Swifts
To: "Tweeters ListServ" <Tweeters at u.washington.edu>
Date: Tuesday, August 24, 2010, 2:02 AM

Gary,
I appreciate your bringing attention to Rich Levad's "The Coolest Bird" and thanks again to Ian Paulsen for providing Tweeters with the link.  This book was Rich Levad's parting gift and everyone involved feels an emotional connection.  Jason Beason took over Rich's position with the Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory.  He and a few others are the ones who put the geolocators on four BLSW last year and recovered one-now make that two, this year.  I'm of course very biased, but to me "The Coolest Bird" is a stunning piece of work.  Try it, you'll like it.
Now for your sighting.  I've observed maybe 100,000 Vaux's Swifts, but when I run into a small number in a wilderness setting, I more often than not have a moment when I need to assure myself that they are not Black Swifts.  At a distance, with just a sky background, the difference is not as obvious as I wish it was.  That said, seeing a Black Swift at 100 feet with a landscape background is a pretty easy call.
So lets assume you did see Black Swifts and try to figure out what they were doing there.  I made a semi serious effort to evaluate all the assessable waterfalls on the Olympia Peninsula for the probability of nesting Black Swifts.  There are not as many "good" falls as you would expect, maybe only a dozen.  Brian Swan is a real waterfall freak and has a wonderful website at http://www.waterfallsnorthwest.com/nws/ I saw no Black Swifts on the Olympic Peninsula except for those that are hanging out at the sea caves on Point Flattery.  The one waterfall that I felt was worth a full evening observation that didn't happen was Murhut.
These birds can do a thousand miles a day loading up on bugs to feed their single chick, so if you see them in the middle of the afternoon it doesn't mean there is a nest nearby.  But if you see them early or late in the day, at least their roost site should not be too far away.  In this case it could still be deep in the Olympics, but someone should beat on that brush to check out the rushing water sound.  With a little map work that could be me.
Jason Beason emailed that he is going to have The Coolest Bird printed in real book form.  
Larry SchwittersIssaquah


On Aug 23, 2010, at 9:42 PM, Gary Smith wrote:
When in the Olympics last week I saw four Black Swifts.  (Dark all over and relatively large; relatively long, narrow wings; the wing beats appearing to be intermittent and irregular, almost casual, etc.)  What I’d like to raise is whether there might be a nest in the vicinity, and I ask this especially because I saw them on the east side of the Olympics, where range maps don’t indicate known nesting.  The reason I even know to ask is that upon returning to “civilization” I noticed on Tweeters Ian Paulsen’s link to the Black Swift monograph, and upon going through it, came to appreciate both how much remains to be known about these “coolest birds” and the role Tweeters’ own Larry Schwitters has played in researching their nesting.   I saw the Black Swifts above the edge of the cliff at Upper Lena Lake facing east over the Lena Creek drainage. The time was early morning, not too long after sunrise.  There are several waterfalls on
that creek, and right there is the sound of a lot of rushing water, like a waterfall, and pretty hard to access, I’d say. I think that with some determined brush-beating a person might be able to get into position to look more closely.  None of this registered as possibly significant until I perused the monograph, but in any case, since I had a passel of Boy Scouts to look after and many miles to take them further into the high country, this was my only opportunity to observe these birds.   If any of you would like to contact me to discuss further, I’d be happy to oblige.  Great birding to you all.  Gary T. SmithAlki Point  

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