Herald Swift Roost a Mini-Monroe
After observing Vaux's Swifts entering the Herald-Republic chimney last
evening, I sent a email to Larry Schwitters in western Washington. He
gave a program on Swifts to YVAS last October. He is project manager
for Audubon's "Vaux's Happening."
He emailed me back with an offer I couldn't refuse. Today, May 1, was
the first of two "big" Saturday Swift roost counts to tally the northbound
migration. Next Saturday, May 8, will be the second count.
His email included simple instructions for the count and a few tips. So
down the road I went.
The Swifts were sparse right up to sunset at 8:11. Then, boom, 200+
were flirting with the chimney. The first seven went in at 8:10. A slight
pause, then bursts of 70, 100, 120, 10, 85, 30, 2, 15, 20, 5, and the final
3 at 8:27. The grand total was 467! Last evening, I never had more than
25 in view at one time.
John Hebert showed up just as the swarm hit at sunset. I followed Larry's
advise to estimate strong flows by counting by 5's and 10's. John didn't
argue with my tallies so I think I was in the ballpark.
Larry's tips on the impact of weather goes something like this: In nice
weather, the swifts will go to roost close to sunset. Dark, cold and
conditions result in earlier entry. But the real complication is rain.
Swifts beat the big drops regardless of time of day.
I believe this is a migration roost...it will probably continue for a week
two. If you have a free evening and the weather is good, drop down for a
view. Park on Third Street at or across from the library. The Herald's
black chimney at the back of the building is obvious from the private
parking lot directly east of the library. Depending on weather, show
time is around sunset.
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