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Swift Watch

Name: Swift Watch
Date: Three Weeks in September, from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Location: Chapman Elementary School’s lawn, near NW Pettygrove Street and NW 26th Avenue
Contact information: www.audubonportland.org
Cost: Free
What is it: A chance to see thousands of birds roost in the old chimney of an elementary school

The annual Swift Watch takes place in the month of September at the Chapman Elementary School in NW Portland. The largest known roosting spot of swifts in the world, the school’s chimney houses up to 40,000 birds at one time. They are especially active during the month of September, when they gather to rest before heading south for the winter.

Starting shortly before dusk, the birds begin to arrive, forming tornado-like clouds as they swoop around and prepare to enter the chimney. Their path can be stymied, however, by hawks who sometimes lay in wait for their prey.

Most visitors pack along dinner, wine and/or something to sit on. Expect lots of booing if the hawks are around and applause when the birds finally finish filing into the chimney.