See the Swifts

For information on this year’s Swift Night Out, click here.
For a PDF brochure on the Swifts, click here.

 

But there’s something to see every night!  For several weeks in both the spring (April and May) and fall (September and October)  you can witness an amazing natural event occurring in our community, and watch thousands of these birds swirl into a 40-ft chimney in just minutes!

Time:

Around sunset – see the chart below.

Location:

Frank Wagner Center
639 W Main St, Monroe, WA  98272
Old Town Monroe on Main Street, between Kelsey St. and Dickinson Rd.


Here are some Frequently Asked Questions:

What’s this all about?
Every year, thousands of Vaux’s (pronounced “voxes”) Swifts fly into the Wagner Center chimney in Monroe each night as a stopping place as they migrate north during the spring and again south during the fall. All these small birds squeeze themselves into a 31-foot tall, 4-foot square chimney in just minutes.  The chimney provides them protection over night, and a well-needed place to rest.  Watching the swifts as they spiral into the chimney is an amazing sight to behold.

I hear there’s a celebration called Swift Night Out?
Yes!  Each year we celebrate the return of the swifts on the 1st Saturday after Labor Day.  You are invited to bring your family and friends, a blanket, a folding chair or just sit on the lawn, and watch the swifts’ aerial performances. The event runs from 5:00 p.m until dusk. There will be booths with informative displays and nature-related items. One booth allows children and adults to touch actual bird “skins” and to compare the sizes of different species of birds. There will be activities for children plus a spaghetti dinner and hot dog booth and an apple crisp option. And you won’t want to miss Larry Schwitters’ lecture on Vaux’s Swifts, usually at 6:30 pm.  Experts  will be present to answer questions too.

So, come on by – you will be glad you did! You will leave feeling privileged to have witnessed one of nature’s amazing spectacles!

I want to see the swifts on another day, when should I arrive?
The swifts begin gathering in the sky above the chimney in large numbers an hour or more before sunset. Often, closer to sunset, the swifts begin circling directly above the chimney in a large flock before dropping in huge numbers into the chimney. They often start to enter the chimney a half-hour to an hour before sunset. If there are extraordinary numbers of swifts, they will start entering the chimney even earlier in order to get all of them in by sunset.  See below for sunset chart.

How many swifts will there be?
At the peak of the fall migration, thousands are expected. On September 7, during the 2011 fall migration, 26,552 Vaux’s Swifts were observed flying into the Frank Wagner Elementary School chimney. The Fall Migration is usually much larger than the spring migration because young swifts migrate with their parents then.  Also the weather is often better, making it easier for us humans to watch.

How long will they be in Monroe?
For the fall migration, they will probably arrive from late August until the end of September or even early October but in much lower numbers by then. The best viewing is expected to be in the first weeks of September.

Monroe Sunset Chart
September 2014 (each year this will be about the same)
Date Sunset Date Sunset
1 – 7:51      16 – 7:20Swifts into the chimney
2 – 7:49      17 – 7:18
3 – 7:47      18 – 7:16
4 – 7:45      19 – 7:14
5 – 7:43      20 – 7:12
6 – 7:41      21 – 7:10
7 – 7:39      22 – 7:08
8 – 7:37      23 – 7:06
9 – 7:35    24 – 7:04
10 – 7:33    25 – 7:02
11 – 7:30    26 – 6:59
12 – 7:28    27 – 6:57
13 – 7:26    28 – 6:55
14 – 7:24    29 – 6:53
15 – 7:22 30 – 6:51

*For other months go to: www.sunrisesunset.com

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