Fall bird migration has begun. Birders are visiting area ponds and lakes with large muddy edges, perfect for attracting shorebirds. These plovers, sandpipers, and dowitchers have left their breeding areas, some as far north as the Arctic Tundra and are heading for the winter homes, some as far south as Argentina.
The chimney swifts are also preparing for migration. From a Columbus Audubon article, https://columbusaudubon.org/conservation-pages/whatjustzippedintomychimney/, “Swifts winter in the Amazon Basin of Peru. Typically, they arrive in Ohio in April and depart by October. At the end of the breeding season, the swifts’ communal instincts peak prior to fall migration. They congregate by the hundreds and even thousands, feeding in preparation for the long flight to the Amazon Basin of Peru. The location of a large roost in August, September and early October is a good reason to order up a ‘spectacle celebration’.”
On Sunday evening, August 16th, Natalie and I joined friends and the Glen Echo Bird Club to do a count of the Chimney Swift colony that was forming at the Indian Springs Elementary School.
We arrived at 8:15 and some swifts were in the area gathering overhead and then deciding to get more mosquitoes before quitting for the day. By 8:47 more had gathered. By 8:51 they were flying in a large circle and were starting to enter. By 8:58 they had all entered.
Natalie had her binoculars focused on the entrance of the chimney, counting as the swifts folded back their wings and dropped in. With amazement, I watched the vortex above me.
This has been on my list for several years. Another count will be done in September. Even more should be present. The count tonight was 600s - 800.
But the Chimney Swifts will be there every evening, whether or not someone is counting them. Just remember the days are getting shorter, so get there a little earlier.
View Chimney swifts in action with this link: