Black Swifts in Montana: Finding New Nesting Sites and What’s Next for This Elusive Bird

Lisa Bates, Amy Cilimburg


Until a few years ago, Black Swifts (Cypseloides niger) were only known to nest at three sites in Montana. With concerted efforts over the last few years by Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks, Glacier National Park, and intrepid volunteers, we have now added to our known nesting sites in Montana. Black Swifts nest behind waterfalls, often in remote and challenging terrain. Through these recent efforts, we have learned how best to successfully identify possible nesting sites, increasing our understanding of where this rarest of birds breeds in Montana. Black Swifts are a Montana Species of Concern because of their small population size, restricted breeding range, lack of monitoring, and threats from a changing climate. We explore these issues and share plans for a collaborative research and outreach effort for 2014 and beyond. We also examine how Montana’s findings fit into a broader, regional effort to better understand and conserve this species.

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