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Thursday, September 12, 2013


Imagine seeing up to 26,000 small birds circling in the sky before they swoop down into a chimney in a matter of minutes. Such an amazing natural drama will take place in the town of Monroe, Washington, this weekend, where crowds will gather with their lawn chairs or blankets, binoculars, and entire families for Swift Night Out 2013. This annual event celebrates the return of thousands of Vaux's (pronounced "voxes") Swifts to a 31-foot-tall, 4-foot-square chimney in the town's community center. Now called "Wagner Center," this building was the former Frank Wagner Elementary School.

Don't miss this exciting live streaming video looking right inside the chimney. See the wonderful website "Monroe Swifts" for more information.

Photo by Washington Dept. of Fish and Wildlife. Thanks to Pat Leonard of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology for locating this image for me.
These Northwest birds have been described by some as "flying cigars" because of the shape of their bodies, designed for a life of nearly constant flight. They spending virtually all their daylight hours in the air without resting, in their relentless search for insects. They would naturally choose a hollow tree to nest in, if they could. With hollow trees much harder to find these days, they chose this chimney instead, and because of then it was saved from demolition.

Now the return of the birds means a community celebration. The event begins at 5 p.m. with a spaghetti feed followed by a lecture and a chance to ask questions of bird experts. Booths, displays, and vendors give the evening a festive mood. Wagner Center is located at 639 W. Main St. in Old Town Monroe, between Kelsey St. and Dickinson Rd. Bring the family and enjoy a spectacular show.

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