Swift Migration

Vaux's Swifts go to roost in Chapman Elementary School chimney in Portland, OR (photo by Dan Viens)

Just a reminder that swift migration is heating up across the continent: chimney swifts in the east, Vaux swifts in the west.

Stake out a chimney at dusk and watch the excitement as the swifts swirl and drop into the chimney to roost for the night.

Early to mid September is prime time for this activity in southwestern Pennsylvania.  Check out these chimneys in Pittsburgh:

  • At South St. Clair Street, across the street from 5802 Baum Boulevard, look at the chimney across the parking lot.  Three Rivers Birding Club usually visits this chimney at least one evening during migration… and then we go to The Sharp Edge for beer.
  • In Oakland on Clyde Street near Central Catholic High School, watch the tall chimney on an apartment building on the left.
  • In Dormont, start at the corner of West Liberty Ave and Edgehill Ave.  Walk up the right side of Edgehill Ave to the second telephone pole that has a sign on it saying Weight Limit 9 Tons.  Stop and look across the street & you’ll see the chimney.
  • In Squirrel Hill there are hidden chimneys near the corner of Forbes and Murray Avenues where the swifts swirl at dusk.  Walk around to get a good view.
  • Almost anywhere on the South Side Flats is good for swifts.
  • Check out the closed public schools: the former Gladstone Middle School in Hazelwood, former Schenley High School in Oakland, etc.  Tall chimneys have swifts.

If you’ve never seen this you’re in for a treat.  It’s awesome!

Here’s more information about swift migration from Georgia Wildlife.  Or click on the picture above to watch the trailer for On The Wing, a movie about Vaux swifts in Portland, Oregon and their famous chimney.


(photo from Dan Viens, creator of On the Wing)

3 thoughts on “Swift Migration

  1. There is a school in Carnegie where the football field served as the home field for the Carlynton & Seton-La Salle High Schools. Next to the football field was building that had a big chimney. In the fall while we were at the football games we would often see a huge flock of swifts fly into the chimney. It was really amazing. Hundreds and hundreds of birds would go into the chimney.

  2. Check out the intersection of Shady and Phillips. Saw hundreds of swifts using the chimney of the temple last fall.

  3. This morning in the Southside, while taking a detour for the Liberty bridge closure, I saw a large group of swifts flying near a chimney on 10th and Carson. (the building behind the BP) I went back this evening and saw them flying and dropping into the chimney. What a sight! Thanks for the heads up Kate.

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