Every year in September, Portlanders enjoy a unique and seasonal display as the Vaux’s Swifts come home to roost in the Chapman Elementary School’s chimney. This natural phenomenon really has to be seen to be appreciated, as the birds form a living vortex that slowly funnels into the chimney – and drama usually ensues as a Cooper’s hawk tries to pick off an unlucky swift for its dinner. Volunteers from the Audubon Society will be on hand to help spectators learn more about these fascinating birds.
Vaux’s Swifts are native to North America, and tend to pick the same places to roost during their migration to Central America for the winter. The group in Portland, which is the largest group in North America and includes thousands of swifts, has been coming to Chapman Elementary since the 1980s. If you are visiting Portland in September, be sure not to miss this unique event! Chapman Elementary is located right in our neighborhood at NW 26th and Raleigh, and the swifts will be roosting every night in September, beginning about one hour before sunset.