Posted by: atowhee | September 1, 2017


September 1: Hot and dry.
A tip from a birder friend, Roshana, sent me to downtown McMinnville tonight. She had spotted a flock of Vaux’s Swifts entering a chimney there. I quickly decided that if I was fast enough with my camera and the shutter was speedy enough I could swiftly gather a few snapshots of the rapid swifts and then run home and share them. When I arrived the swift flock was loose and hard to estimate…but as the time passed they gathered more tightly. And at 810PM sharp they formed a vortex that funneled down into a stout brick chimney. This is at the west end of the brick building housing McMinnville Cooperative Ministries at 544 NS Second Street. The chimney must bold enough to have no metal lining so there are plenty of cracks and crevices for these swifts to grab with their flimsy hook-like feet. It was great to see them as my household swifts departed about two weeks so I like imagine they are part of this downtown gathering.SWIFT SMEARSWIFT SWIRLVORTEX 1VORTEX2VORTEX3VORTEX5

The climax came swiftly and passed just as swiftly, in less than a minute my chimney count went from three (who had entered singly much earlier) to somewhere between seventy and a hundred.ENTRY1ENTRY2ENTRY3ENTRY4ENTRY5ENTRY6ENTRY7ENTRY8MOONThis is a typical migratory flock that will not be around all that long though we don’t know how many nights an individual bird will spend in such a communal roost site before moving south.
William Vaux (1811-1882) was a Philadelphia businessman and amateur but avid mineralogist. He was a leader and financial supporter of the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia,the first of its kind in America. Vaux befriended John Kirk Townsend, who, along with Thomas Nuttall, discovered this species on their trip to Oregon in the 1830s.
Vaux’s ancestors were Huguenots who arrived after first fleeing France for England. Upon his death his mineral collection passed to the Academy and was deemed the finest in the U.S. at that time.


  1. Great picts. You even got the moon in one. About how many birds do you estimate?

    m a

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