Vaux Swift Watch 2016

Chapman ChimneyThis post has nothing to do with o chem, but you have a long weekend ahead of you and I don’t want you miss something really special: the swarming and roosting of 5000+ small Vaux swifts in the Chapman School chimney in NW Portland. This is one of the best FREE displays of urban wildlife you will ever see (and you don’t need binoculars).

Fortunately, the timing and location are perfect for Reed students. Head towards the Chapman Elementary school in NW Portland (#15 Bus will get you very close) on any night in early-mid September. Arrive about 30-60 minutes before sunset (7:00-7:30 arrival during Labor Day weekend) if you are just going to see the birds. Arrive a little earlier if you plan to bring a picnic, a ball or frisbee, and hang out in the park next to the school. The birds put on their show according to a timing that only they know so don’t be late (Wed, Sept 2, they were all settled in the chimney by 8:10. Thurs they were finished 10 minutes earlier.) The warm late-summer evenings are perfect for an outdoors off-campus adventure.

This event is not to be missed

  • Directions: The chimney is located at the west end (hilly side) of Chapman Elementary school. The school is located next to Wallace Park on NW 25th between NW Pettygrove & NW Raleigh. After you see the swifts, you can walk over to NW 23rd for dessert – many many establishments will be happy to serve you between 8-10 PM. Map
  • Best viewing: Get there about 20 minutes before sunset and watch the birds collect and feed. It takes awhile for all of them to go into the chimney so you’ll be there after sunset (full moon tonite). Most people watch from the hillside on NW Pettygrove, and it can get kind of noisy, so be considerate to the neighbors who live nearby.

Learn more at Swift Watch – Portland Audubon

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