Black Swifts are thought to forage long distances from their nest sites, but their basic movement ecology is unknown. Knowledge about daily foraging routes and distances will help identify flight patterns, foraging hotspots and habitat relationships—critical to understanding the conservation needs of this enigmatic species.
Summer Camps are a venue to develop an affinity for uncertainty—a central part of the scientific process. On the Wing, a ten-day camp for teens interested in field biology and ornithology, turns uncertainty into something to be explored. Along their journey, participants gain new skills, confidence and lasting memories of life-changing experiences.
Black Swifts are at risk to the effects of climate change. As our atmosphere heats up and viable Black Swift breeding habitat dwindles, proactive conservation of this species is critical. A team of researchers is working to conserve the North American population of Black Swifts, conducting research across the West to better understand the “coolest bird.”
Earlier this month, the sustainable tourism website Rumbos published a photo of an alleged Black Swift taken Dec. 2, 2012, during a birding rally in Tambopata, Peru. If it is indeed a Black Swift, this would be the first known sighting of the species in South America, outside of samples of a Black Swift subspecies collected in Colombia in 1993.
Six years ago in late August, Rich Levad, Rob Sparks, Jason Beason and Ken Behrens hiked through spruce fir forest to a spot just above timberline where a Black Swift nest clung to a wet, rocky outcrop. The outing was part of Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory’s effort to collect baseline data on this little-known species. When no swifts were seen that evening, the scientists wondered if they had already started migrating – and where did they go?
The last bird that breeds in the U.S. and Canada with an unknown winter destination has finally given up its secret. After years of research – and with some luck – three Colorado researchers have learned that Black Swifts travel more than 4,000 miles to spend the winter in Brazil.