Swirling Vaux’s swifts come to roost Sept. 8 in Monroe
MONROE — On Sept. 8, the Vaux’s swifts, little birds that resemble swallows but are more closely related to hummingbirds, will be swirling and diving into the historic chimney at Wagner Center, 639 W. Main Street, during the annual Swift Night Out.
The city of Monroe named the little birds the official bird of the city in 2016. Mayor Geoffrey Thomas has proclaimed Sept. 8 as 2018’s Swift Night Out.
It’s a public event to go and watch the little birds execute their evolved chimney diving at sunset.
It’s also one of the largest migratory events in the country. More than 20,000 swifts swoop, tail feathers first, into the chimney.
The Pilchuck Audubon Society will be keeping track of the birds for its research, the organization’s president Cindy Easterson said last year. This year’s tracking began Aug. 13.
“It’s a phenomenon that is unique and fascinating for people who come and watch and it’s good to celebrate the swifts and educate people about them,” Easterson told this paper previously.
The society wants to encourage a love for the Vaux’s (pronounced “voxes”) swift because of their migratory connection to Monroe.
Audubon volunteers count the little birds as they swoop and dive into the old chimney.
Each late August through early September, the Vaux’s swifts migrate exclusively up and down the West Coast between Mexico (their wintering grounds) and Canada (their breeding grounds). Along the way, they “roost” in hollow trees or chimneys together to stay warm at night, while flying by day.
The migratory event in Monroe has attracted a following with birdwatchers. The city took notice and supported the annual “Swift Night Out” since its inception a decade ago.
2016’s event attracted about 1,200 people; 2017’s night out attracted about half that because damp weather drove away people.
Apart from research, the Audubon groups also help the little birds in case one of their regular stopping points in their migration gets demolished, which is an increasing occurrence for chimneys that are getting too old and unsafe.
“We have tracked the migration numbers, both north in the spring and south in the fall, to document the importance of these chimneys as important migration roosting sites,” Easterson said.
Easterson said they work with several other Audubons all along the West Coast to track the swifts and other birds of interest.
Swift Night Out begins at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 8, but the free show begins to flourish at sunset.
The group will be offering hot dogs and apple crisp along with snacks and beverages for sale, Easterson said.
The event also will include children’s games and crafts. Parking available at the Wagner Center, at Monroe City Hall (806 W. Main St.) and ADA-accessible parking is available kitty corner from the Wagner Center in Windermere Real Estate’s parking lot.
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