Thursday, July 4, 2013

Black Swifts on Nests

Yesterday, I had the chance to visit a well-known nesting site of Black Swifts in northern Idaho on my way back from another trip.  Black Swifts are a very unique species that can be tough to find if you don't know where to look.  Here's one big hint: they nest exclusively behind waterfalls or in ocean-misted cliffs.  This was an exciting species for me because it was an "eBird lifer," that is, I had seen them only once before (June 2000), and it was before I was keeping detailed enough notes that I could later enter the sighting into eBird.  Black Swifts are a mysterious species as birds go: only about 200 nesting sites are known, and they made big news last year when their wintering range was finally discovered in western Brazil.  The total population is estimated at about 15,000 individuals worldwide, and is declining at about 6% per year.  Here are a few photos from my recent trip to see this intriguing bird at a nesting colony.


  1. That is SO many kinds of cool, I hardly know WHAT to say. Congratulations, and what a treat to see them STILL. Beautiful creatures.

  2. These are fabulous shots of this amazing bird Ryan! We are very lucky to have a breeding site close by at Burney Falls in northern California which is less than an hour from my house. I was glad to hear that they have discovered a more extensive wintering range.

    The ecological requirements for Black Swifts to breed restrict them to a very limited supply of nesting locations. Plus the fact that they only lay one egg per season which is incubated for about four weeks and the chicks don’t fledge for another fifty days gives us some idea as to why these birds are declining. They are a Species of Special Concern in California.

  3. Fantastic sighting! Fabulous photographs!