Chimney Swifts

K and I went downtown tonight to watch the Chimney Swifts do their nightly plunge into one of the larger chimney’s in Asheville. I have lived here off and on since I was 12 and have never heard of this. Apparently, they all gather in one spot before taking their winter trip to Peru. So, for 3 days at sun rise and sun set you can see them swirling around the chimney over one of the downtown buildings. It was really amazing! It started off ~7 pm with 10-20 of them circling over the building. We went to lay in the grass with ~30 other people all there to wathc (some with wine and cheese:-). By the time the sun was setting, there were thousands of them in what looked like a funnel cloud just swirling around the chimney. Then they started to dive in. And over ~5 minutes, they were all gone. It was wild! While we were there, a reporter from the local paper came over to ask me a few questions. I said stuff like ‘yeah, it’s amazing that they don’t crash’ and ‘I wonder why they chose that chimney’ and stupid stuff like that (I’m glad she didn’t quote me when I joked about why no one was getting crapped on since we were all laying down directly under the birds). And then, K (who had been occupied with a cookie that someone gave her) decided to get up and do a “birdie dance”. It was awesome! She was flapping her arms and tweeting and zooming all around! She is such a nut! Too bad the reporter didn’t have a camera :-)

I tried to get a good picture, but there was just no way with them all swooping all over the place. I did get a shot of the chimney that they all fly into though. If you look really close, you can see some dots in the sky that are the birds. (but don’t strain your eyes!)

2 thoughts on “Chimney Swifts

  1. That would be a really tough shot. I think you’d need a longer lens and a tripod to do it justice, maybe? Sounds like it’s quite a sight to behold!

  2. I’ve noticed this phenomenon in a couple of spots in St Louis, MO… usually in the fall but also some large roosts that had the swirling chirping vortex of leaves effect all through the summer. Do you know anything more about the cycles of this? (only pre-migration or all summer?) Tks, nice piece.

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