Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # O_2012-06

Common name:

Black Swift

Scientific name: Cypseloides niger
Date: 7-30-12/7-31-12
Time: 8 to 9pm(30th) 6am and 7:30am (31st)
Length of time observed: 1 hour(30th),20 minutes
Number: 3(30th),2(31st)
Age: adult
Sex: 1 male,1 female,1 unkown
Location: Little Deer Creek Falls along the north for of the Duchscene river
County: Duchesne
Elevation: 8,200 feet
Distance to bird: 80 feet at closest approach
Optical equipment: 10X50 binoculars,Canon SX20is Digital Camera
Weather: partly cloudy
Light Conditions: poor,as the sun had set behind the mountain,but with enough light to make out ID details
Description:        Size of bird: Large Swift
(Description:)       Basic Shape: very long narrow wings,relatively short stout body
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: solid black
(Description:)            Bill Type: very small
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
On Sunday night,still thinking about finding a new nest site for Black Swifts,I did an image search on flickr for "Uinta Waterfalls" which produced several pages of results. As I looked through them,one of them looked like a good candidate falls and was near a side road off the mirror lake highway,so I though,"lets go check it out". Come Monday afternoon I found my self at the falls. It was about 100 feet tall,and perfect for Black Swifts,that is it met all of Knorr's criteria. So I climbed the falls,and 2 more smaller falls above it,but saw no sign of BLSW nests. But,the first fall had some very deep dark niches which could easily hold nests that would simple be invisible, so I decide to spend the night and see what happens. So I set up camp near by,did some fishing and cooked dinner,always checking the dozen or so VIOLET GREEN SWALLOWS fluttering above to make sure they aren't swift. Just after finishing diner,about 8pm,as I'm gazing longingly at the waterfall a few hundred yards off,suddenly something dark and fast flew right overhead, I jump to my feet and see its a swift,grab the binoculars and get a great view of the bird less than 100 feet above,and bingo,its a BLACK SWIFT!!! It flies back and forth up and down canyon for a few minutes,then disappears. A few minutes later it comes back,with a friend,so now there are 2 BLACK SWIFTS!!! I get a good look at the tails on both of them,one is slightly notched,and the other is straight edged,which according to Sibley means they are a male and female. They fly around for the next 20 minutes coming and going up and down canyon,then they start buzzing the waterfall,so I head to the base of the falls,and they are flying all around. Briefly they were joined by a 3rd BLSW,which I don't know were it came from,but it didn't stay long. The 2 BLSW flew around near the waterfalL until 15 minutes after sunset(around 9pm),and then shot up towards the top of the falls and disappeared. I didn't actually see them land,because it was dark and so were they,but they obviously went to roost on the falls. I climbed up there later at night with my flashlight trying to get some eyeshine off them,but no luck. I returned at around 6am,and found 1 BLSW flying back and forth from the top of the falls in short circles. I climbed to the top of the falls, but by the time I got there the BLSW had stopped going back and forth, and was gone. I looked again for a nest but could not see one,but like I said,there were many deep cracks were there could be a nest that would be invisible. Later as I was drinking my morning coffee back at camp around 7:30am,2 BLSW came shooting right above me going up and down canyon several times,as if to say goodbye before they disappeared to unknown quarters. 2 BLSW,presumably a male and female,going to roost on a waterfall in late July is a STRONG indication of nesting. So,either I was just EXTREMELY lucky to find probable nesting BLSW on the first waterfall I check in the Uintas(ok second because I have look for th!
em at Provo falls before with no luck) or BLSW are more common in the Uintas than we realise. My lesson to take from this is,don't disqualify a falls as a nesting site just because you don't see a nest or BLSW on a short visit in the middle of the day. You need to be there in late evening and/or early morning
(see photos)
Song or call & method of delivery:  
Behavior: Flying fast overhead,and then going to roost at a waterfall
Habitat: montane canyon with ponds,a creek and steep cliffs,mixed with conifer forest and a waterfall nearby
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
White-throated Swift would have a white throat and a longer,more tapered, forked tail. Swallows have a different wing shape and proportion,and fly much slower
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
Seen at great distance at Bridal Veil Falls twice
References consulted: Sibley Guide to North American Birds,2000 D.A. Sibley
Description from: From memory
Observer: Bryant Olsen
Observer's address: 688 East 700 South #105, SLC,UT 84102
Observer's e-mail address: **
Other observers who independently identified this bird: none
Date prepared: 8-4-12
Additional material: Photos,  video
Additional comments: