The largest known swift roost in the world - over 30,000 Vaux's Swifts - can be seen each September in Portland, Oregon, in a chimney at Chapman Elementary School. Portland Audubon hosts a Swift Watch. Learn more about this program and be sure to see a video of the swifts swirling down the chimney. And by the way? It's pronounced like voxes, not vohs.
Vaux’s Swifts Come to Roost – by the Thousands
Written by Bob Sundstrom
This is BirdNote!
September brings to the Northwest one of nature’s great spectacles. But just what is it that could bring crowds of people out after sunset to stare at … a chimney?
Watch now. Here they come. Scores—perhaps hundreds—of small black birds whirl by, then form into a funnel cloud. Now they begin to descend, right down into the chimney, first one, then a few more, then dozens, then hundreds swirling down within. Each bird goes in with its wings held high, as if parachuting, dropping inside to catch onto the rough interior of the chimney with its feet, where it will hang until morning.
You are witnessing a flock of Vaux’s Swifts entering their communal roost site for the night. Small, dark, streamlined birds, Vaux’s Swifts spend much of the year in southern Mexico, but come north to nest.
The largest known swift roost in the world – over 30,000 birds – can be seen each September in Portland, Oregon, in a chimney at Chapman Elementary School. And Portland Audubon Society hosts a Swift Watch for three weeks. We’ll see you there, around sunset.
Find out exactly where, when you come to our web site, BirdNote.org. For Seattle Audubon and your local Audubon, I’m Frank Corrado.
Vaux’ Swift flock returning to roost at Monroe Elementary School recorded and provided by Martyn Stewart, Naturesound.org
Ambient recordings by Kessler Productions
Producer: John Kessler
© Seattle Audubon 9/01/06