Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Chapman School Chimney Swifts

Laurie's back, visiting Portland and she found out about the Chapman School Chimney Swifts before I did. Also known as Vaux's Swifts, every September, thousands of these tiny, frantically flying birds (they sleep, eat and mate in flight) roost in the school chimney as the sun goes down. This creates a swirling vortex of birds for a reverse "genie in a bottle" effect.

We, along with hundreds of picnicking Portlanders, sat up on the school hillside and watched nature adapt before our eyes. With the lack of worldwide hollow trees to safely nest-build in, the birds have been using chimneys instead. They're considered a nuisance in some parts of the world, requiring an exterminator in order for people and businesses to use their heat source without the scent of 40,000 smoked birds.

Not in Portland though! The kids at Chapman School endured many years of chilly Autumns before raising $75,000 to purchase an alternate heating system. Now the chimney is, as they say, for the birds. Here's my tiny camera-phone's birds' eye view.

And a very cool video of the Swifts turning in for the night by jgamge.

The Audubon Society of Portland is having a Swift Watch Migration walk with kids' activities and music by The Chapman Swifts band on Sept. 20th.

And the documentary, "On The Wing," will be shown at Cinema 21 in Portland for one night as a benefit for the Audubon Society, Thursday, October 2nd. The trailer has some pretty shots of the city, as well as the birds.

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