A Nation-wide Chimney Swift Roost Monitoring Project


Vaux's Swift Reports from Larry Schwitters and www.vauxshappening.org


These Oregon sites were involved in a four state effort to survey the numbers of Vaux's Swifts at known migratory communal roost sites on the same evening. The date chosen was September 13 to coordinate with "A Swift Night Out". We had targeted 45 different sites and ended up having observations at 41 of these sites, and added one unexpected new site. Two of the missing four targeted sites were observed the following evening. Our one day snapshot of the North American Vaux's Swift migratory population totaled 47,170.

La Grande, OR: Four different sites were surveyed by Cathy Nowak, Fish and Wildlife Biologist for the ODFW Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area with the help of Renee Coxen and Arlene Blumton. There were 0 birds sighted. Other information previously reported by Evelyn Bull.

Portland, Oregon: Chapman Elementary School is likely the largest Vaux's Swift roost site in NA. Portland Audubon has developed and promoted this site into a month long September wildlife spectacle. Their 9/13/08 count was a conservative 10,500. Website at

Portland, Oregon: Duniway Elementary School is a significant roost site that didn't get officially observed in 2008. They had as many as 4450 birds in a one day count for SwiftWatch 2000.

Salem, Oregon: There are a number of sites in Salem, including Willamette U which was scheduled to be, but not, observed. Less than 1000 swifts would be expected here.

Corvallis, Oregon:
The Audubon Society of Corvallis, led by Paula Vanderheul, Sarah Marshall, Roberta Swift and others, put a lot of energy into figuring out and promoting the roost sites in their city this year. The swifts in Corvallis were early, with attendance peaking at 3,100 birds at the historic Whiteside Theater on 9/6. In the days leading up to the Swift Night Out, there were counts of 872 on 9/7, 1510 on 9/8, 650 on 9/10 and 730 on 9/11--all observed by a cadre of interested community members. By the time the big day arrived, there were only 3 swifts at the historic theater.

Adair Village, Oregon: This small town just north of Corvallis used to have roost sites. Several of them, including the Old Military Heating Plant were checked out by Joel Geier with no roosting swifts located.

Bend, Oregon: The East Cascade Bird Conservancy featuring Judy Meredith, Tom Crabtree, and Kim Boddie got interest flowing and a count of 187 on Sept 14.

Eugene, Oregon: While there are a number of sites (one previously reported) in the Eugene Area, the granddaddy and most likely second largest in the state is Agate Hall on the University of Oregon campus. The Lane County Audubon has been involved here for years. With the arrival of Nicole Nielson-Pinus and the guidance of Maeve Sowles this huge braced brick chimney should be in good hands.
A serious and important estimate of 4000-6000 swifts on 9/13 was provided by UO Biology Professor Peter Wetherwax.

Roseburg, Oregon: Eleanor Pugh, Meredith Jones, and Mark Hamm of Rogue Valley Audubon have been the most consistent yearly contributers of Vaux's Swifts to "A Swift Night Out". Their information was quickly sent in as usual. The Roseburg 9/13 count was 770.

Grants Pass, Oregon: The brick Chimney of the Senior Center, a historic high number site, was torn down this summer, accompanied by a lack of community awareness.

Ashland, Oregon: This classy border town is home to the Klamath Bird Observatory which has been keeping a close eye on a 55 foot brick chimney at the Eaden Valley Vineyards. Nala Cardillo has had good numbers there, but none on September 14. Their reports may be posted separately.


I attempted to contact each of the 50 California Audubon Local Chapters seeking information on known Vaux's Roost sites. We only came up with three, and the one (ones) in downtown San Diego seem to be no longer active, if even still in existence. What happens to these migrating birds once they hit this very large and diverse state? If you have an answer please pass it on at www.vauxshappening.com

Arcata, California: John Hunter with US Fish and Wildlife Service followed up on a 9/5/08 observation of 430 roosting Vaux's by David Fix with this excellent report.
Date - 9/13/08
Total count - 184 birds
Observation time - start 1845, end 1956
Sunset time (local) - 1928 PDT
Sunset temperature - 54 degrees F. Measured with thermometer.
Precipitation - None.
First sighting - 1845, some birds were present when I arrived.
First bird in - 1850
Last bird in - 1946
Observer - John E. Hunter
Comments - Sky was 100% overcast with no fog, wind calm with gusts to 2 mph. Some birds may have entered before I arrived. Peak of activity was about 1856 -1911 when 123 birds entered the chimney. This site is located at 13th and I Streets, Arcata, CA in an old Victorian house with a large brick chimney. Seemed like birds entered over an extended time period, perhaps due to cool weather. No birds left the chimney during my observations.

Healdsburg, California: The Rio Lindo Academy is a well known large (perhaps the largest) roost site. Veronica Bowers with Madrone Audubon did the September 13 count with a project high of 20,000 birds. She does good work and has submitted her own reports to A Swift Night Out.

For 47,170 weary Vaux's Swifts,

Larry Schwitters
Project Coordinator
Audubon Vaux's Happening
Issaquah, WA