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See the Swifts at Chapman Elementary

We had a surprise picnic on Saturday to see the birds - Vaux's Swifts to be exact- at Chapman Elementary.

The Swift Watch happens every night this time of year until about the end of the month. As dusk nears the sky fills with hundreds and then THOUSANDS of birds. They dart this way and that and fall into formation, creating a huge funnel cloud of wings that pivots around Chapman Elementary's enormous chimney. Then, without warning, ALL of swifts fly INTO the chimney! The flock is so dense that from a distance it must look like smoke is flowing back to its source.

Pack a picnic, brings a big sheet of cardboard  - yes, you heard me right :), dress for the weather and get out there soon because this odd evening dance typically ends by September 26. Find out more about the Chapman Swift Watch on the Audubon Society website.


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We were there on Saturday evening as well, and agree that it's quite a sight to see! I highly recommend it, especially on one of these warm evenings--everyone has a great time and the kids go home plenty tired from all of the fresh air and running around. If you happen to have a pair of binoculars, bring them along too--lots of people had them.

This is a favorite September outing for us it's amazing to watch and fun when the whole crowd yells at the Cooper's Hawk trying to get her dinner and cheers the escaping swifts and oh's at close calls and, of course, at the end when everyone applauds! Our daughter is 4.5 and this year took more interest in what the birds are doing and why. Aududon has volunteers there to answer questions and show "specimens" (yes, dead swifts and bats for comparison) to those who are interested.

why cardboard?

There is a hillside on top of which most folks lay out their blankets for the viewing. Well, the kids (and some parents) use cardboard to "sled" down the hill. It is chaotic and absolutely wonderful!

Mila took part and so did Gael and I. She came home happy and tired; definitely a nice extra for the kids.

great! i was hoping that was the answer. i used to do that where i grew up when i was a kid.

We have never, never been to witness the swifts. We are meeting up with other urbanMamas on Thursday to watch them. Say "hello" if you see a big group of mamas!

I went the last two nights, what an amazing sight. Only in Portland!

We went last weekend and had a fantastic time. The boys ran up and down that hill so many times I thought they'd drop. And since then my 4 year old has been taking the crows nest from a toy ship he has and setting up his own chimney "to watch the birds go into the chimney" multiple times during the day. I'm required to sit on the floor by the "chimney" and ooh and ahh at the birds, and the hawk. We even watch them "fly out in the morning." I absolutely recommend this to folks.

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