Saturday, September 11, 2010

Swift Migration

Last night Cam and I went to go see the one of the nuttiest things I've ever heard of in Portland. The Swift migration at Chapman Elementary. It's this ridiculous phenomenon that happens every year at dusk throughout the month of September. Vaux's Swifts that are migrating south by the hundreds stop overnight at an elementary school in Portand, and spend the night in the chimney, which is oddly enough, the most prominent feature of the school. It also means that each night hundreds of people flock to see them do it.
It's the craziest thing to watch hundreds of them dive in right as it starts to get dark. While we were there, a hawk came out and started chasing some of them- everyone in the crowd boo-d of course, and then by the hundreds the swifts chased him off. It was pretty awesome. My question was: where do they all fit? Because we watched over a thousand just pile in. Apparently they cling to each of the bricks to sleep.

This video doesn't nearly capture the sight of thousands of small birds flocking over your head and then spiraling in until they all disappear... but it'll at least give you an idea of what it looks like: