Vaux’s Swifts


Kortney at One Deep Drawer told me about the congregation of Vaux’s swifts in NW Portland, and this week we made it over to the Chapman School to see them.   For a bird nerd like me, it was a huge thrill.


We set up early, with hundreds of other families, enjoying our picnic dinner (homemade hummus, Greek yogurt, tomatoes, flatbread, pear sauce), and reading books until the sun began to set.



The school had some well-made signs up about swifts – with sections at the bottom geared for children.  One sign suggested we try  tracking one swift in the sky as long as possible before losing it in the swirl of birds (which we did!).  We learned from another that a single Vaux’s swift can eat 5000 bugs a day!



Then, the swifts began to congregate, and we got out the binoculars to watch.  It was truly breathtaking to watch the birds spiraling together and hear their constant vocalizations.   And the evening only got more spectacular as a Cooper’s Hawk attempted (and finally succeeded!) to catch his dinner from the cloud of birds.   The crowd reacted in unison to his swoops and dives – it was quite a show!



I wish I had a better camera that could have captured just how stunning the whole display really is.   If you’d like to learn more about Vaux’s swifts, and see some better images of their temporary residence at the Chapman School, check out this segment from Oregon Field Guide –

Oregon Field Guide – Vaux\’s Swifts

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