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Swift Night Out #2: Birmingham

October 4, 2019, 6:00 pm9:00 pm

Chimney Swifts at sunset by Greg Harber.
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Swift Night Out is back in Birmingham! Join us downtown as we enjoy the evening with one of our favorite urban birds, the Chimney Swift (Chaetura pelagica). All ages and abilities welcome!

After these aerial acrobats have fledged their young and cleared out their nests, the entire North American population makes its way south to winter along the remote headwaters of the Amazon River. On their way there, they congregate in huge roosting flocks with as many as two or three thousand birds sharing a single chimney—numbers that make for a tremendous spectacle when they all pour into the tiny opening at once.

Chimney swifts at Avondale Elementary. Video: David Fisher.

We’ll meet at one of downtown’s active swift chimneys located near the Pizitz Food Hall in Birmingham. Together, we’ll wait for sunset (6:28 p.m.), watch the swifts work themselves up into their nightly “swiftnado,” and then count the number of individuals who enter the roost. Best of all, the data we produce will help researchers at the Chimney Swift Conservation Association (chimneyswifts.org) get a better sense of trends in eastern swift populations and the effects of climate change on these birds’ annual migratory cycle.

The details: Meetup is at 6:00 p.m. under the pavilion in the middle of Railroad Park (1700 1st Ave. S.) where we’ll watch Chimney Swifts as they come in for one last drink of water from the pavilion pool before they fly to their roost sites. From here, we’ll walk to a nearby chimney and wait for the swiftnado around sunset. Which chimney we visit will depend on the work of our dedicated chimney swift scouting volunteers; they’ll spend part of September looking for active roosts and identifying the most convenient spots for viewing. Check back here for more details.

Binoculars are handy, but certainly not necessary, for viewing the swifts as they assemble in the skies above the chimney. You may want to bring a lawn chair. If you’re a social media user, we strongly encourage you to share your thoughts and photos with the hashtag #AlabamaSwiftWatch!

Courtyard outside the Pizitz Food Hall. Photo: Pizitz Food Hall.

After the viewing party, we will walk, carpool, or bike to the Pizitz Food Hall to enjoy dinner together and an after-party in the courtyard outside the food hall. Live music will be provided by Love Rat and Jupiter Missile beginning at 7:30 p.m. We’ll have a table set up with information about Birmingham Audubon and our efforts to build more swift towers throughout Alabama.

Accessibility: Wheelchair accessible

The trip leader: Greg Harber leads this trip along with Birmingham Audubon’s own Sarah Randolph. His cell phone number is 205-807-8055, and her cell phone number is 205-422-4124 (day of the event only). Feel free to email us with questions.

Love swifts? Support our efforts to build chimney swift nesting towers throughout Alabama. For more hands-on action, join our Alabama SwiftWatch program by signing up at alaudubon.org/volunteer.

Bonus: Prior to our Swift Night Out, you can check out McWane Science Center’s NatureScope exhibit while downtown. Get a close-up look at taxidermied Alabama species, plus rare specimens like an Ivory-billed Woodpecker and a Dodo skull! 


October 4, 2019
6:00 pm–9:00 pm
Event Category:


AL United States


Alabama Audubon
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