See an amazing natural phenomenon happening in Portland during Swift Watch in September.
Every year, Vaux’s Swifts roost in a chimney located in Northwest Portland. If you love birds and incredible nature sights, you’ll want to attend at least one night of Swift Watch.
Swift Watch at Chapman Elementary School
Every night in September, Vaux’s Swifts will arrive at the elementary school in a miraculous mirage as they prepare to roost in the chimney for the night. The birds make a pit stop here during their migration South. One population has been returning to Chapman since the 1980s.
This is one of the largest known roosting sites of migrating Vaux’s Swifts and it is right here in our city. As many as 12,000 birds have been counted by Portland Audubon entering the chimney at Chapman Elementary School.
Swift Watch at Chapman Elementary School is completely free to attend. Bring a lawn chair, blanket and take in this nature sighting.
Plan on arriving an hour before sunset any night during September, from 6-6:30 p.m. As sunset draws near, the swifts begin circling above the school chimney in a large flock. The birds begin to enter the chimney within 10-30 minutes after sunset. It takes 10 and 20 minutes for the birds to fly into the chimney.
This location is near one of Portland’s best urban hikes and all the splendors of NW 23rd avenue. So if you’re going there for the evening roost, you can make a whole evening out of the experience.
Keep in mind street parking will be difficult during the event. If you choose to take public transit, Trimet buses #77 and #15 stop at NW Vaugh and 26th, which is a 5-minute walk from Chapman Elementary.
Chapman Elementary School is at 1445 NW 26th Ave. in Portland. For more information about swift watch, visit the Portland Audubon’s website.
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