During the month of September, head to Chapman Elementary School in Northwest Portland to see an incredible sight. One hour before sunset, thousands of Vaux’s Swifts gather overhead as they prepare to roost for the night. Migrating swifts often use chimneys as roosts (places to sleep), and they are likely to return to the same roost year after year. One population has been returning to Chapman since the 1980s, and is one of the largest known roosting sites of migrating Vaux’s Swifts.
Swift watching has become a popular activity at Chapman, and on many evenings, more than 2,000 people gather to watch these aerial acrobats. During this laid back time, communities of people may engage with nature in different ways, be it through cheers of excitement, gazing in wonder, and more. On most evenings, Portland Audubon volunteers will be on hand to share information about this remarkable species.
Swift Watch occurs at Chapman Elementary School during the month of September. Arrive one hour before sunset any night during the month. Many folks bring blankets or chairs as they sit on the lawn and watch the Swifts overhead.