Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Experiencing the Swifts!

Okay, so I have to admit, this post is long overdue. Things get busy here and then the holidays approached (way too quickly) and now it's December! Yikes! So anyways, back in warmer weather, Spetember to be exact, we gathered with hundreds of Portlanders to watch the swifts at Chapman Elementary. Over the years I had heard rumblings about this phenomenon through friends and local news but had never checked it out. Here's the skinny: for the last 30 years, the swifts ( a small bird) have stopped nightly (every night in September) to roost in the old smokestack atop a local elemntray school. This phenomenon has created quite a following. I had no idea what we were in for! We arrived around 5:30 pm at the school/park to scope out a seat and give the girls time to play before the big show. The birds show up at dusk (approx 6pm). Strangest thing I have ever experienced. Like clockwork, as the sun started to set, thousands (okay maybe only hundreds?) of birds appeared from out of nowhere and started swarming in the sky above us! We sat on our blankets (as first timers we stood out compared to some families elaborate set ups complete with platters of food and beverages) to watch as the birds circled in formation for the next 1/2 hour or so (waiting for any latecomers to fly in). It ended with the lead swift finally decending into the smoke stack and all the other birds following is a tornado-like swirl. The crowd cheers at the sight, families pack it up and we all head home. This happens EVERY night for 30+ days! Not sure if it will be a family tradition or not, but definitely something to check out if you are in Portland in Spetember!
P.S. On a sad note, a couple of the swifts were swept away by a hawk/falcon quietly eyeing the acitivty from a nearby tree. Smart hawk/falcon, he is probably well fed in September. There were plenty of boos from the crowd.

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