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ONLINE: Virtual Swift Night Out


Chimney swifts at dusk by Greg Harber

September 3, 2020 , 7:00 pm 7:30 pm

Tune into our Facebook page on Thursday, September 3rd, around 7:15 p.m. CDT for a virtual Swift Night Out with our Outreach & Communications Director, Sarah Randolph, and Science & Conservation Director, Dr. Lianne Koczur. We’ll be watching the skies around a local chimney in #BIRDingham as we enjoy the evening with one of our favorite urban birds, the chimney swift (Chaetura pelagica). In the event of inclement weather, this virtual event will be rescheduled.

Chimney swifts at Avondale Elementary. Video: David Fisher.

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. This early in the fall migration, we expect numbers more in the hundreds.

Together, we’ll wait for sunset, 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. Learn more about our Alabama SwiftWatch community science program at alaudubon.org/swifts.

No need to register—simply go to facebook.com/alaudubon (@alaudubon) that evening and click on the post once you see we’ve gone live! If you follow us, you should get a notification when we go live. The time is tentative as it may be a little before or a little after 7:15 depending on the lighting and swift action. Some SwiftWatch volunteers have reported the first swift not entering the chimney until around 7:30 p.m. recently, but we’ll have to gauge how much daylight is left also to make sure folks can see from our Facebook Live video.

“Y’all means ALL.” We strive to be the Audubon for everyone, creating a safe space of diversity and inclusion so that all are welcome, regardless of their race, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, age, national origin, religion, or other identifying factors. We welcome those who identify as LGBTQIA+, allies, families, and anyone who wants to enjoy an outdoor experience that is inclusive.

Even though the state has reopened, it’s important to stay safe during this pandemic. See our full COVID-19 statement at alaudubon.org/covid-19.