Portland, OR. Vaux’s Swift are swirling around Chapman Elementary again according to the Audubon Society of Portland. It’s the phenomenon is described as, “One of Portland’s most spectacular natural events.” Thousands of Vaux’s Swifts gather in the city as they prepare to migrate to Central America and Venezuela. (Photo Credit, KOV Photography)

Every September, bird lovers gather to watch Vaux’s Swifts prepare to roost for the night at Chapman Elementary School (1445 NW 26th Ave., Portland.) 2,000-15,000 swifts are spotted on a given evening.

Hundreds watch Vaux's Swifts prepare to roost for the night. It happens one hour before sunset, each night in September

Hundreds watch Vaux’s Swifts prepare to roost for the night. It happens one hour before sunset, each night in September

Vaux’s Swifts are using the Chapman chimney as an evening roost during their fall migration, and there’s still time to see them. Grab a seat on the school lawn and in neighboring Wallace Park to observe the birds gathering. On most evenings, Audubon volunteers will be on hand to share information.

Migrating swifts often use chimneys as roosts (places to sleep), and they are likely to return to the same roost year after year. One swift population has been returning to the Chapman chimney since the 1980s, and it is one of the largest known roosting sites of migrating Vaux’s Swifts.

Here’s a video from a Swift Watch:

From the Audubon Society of Portland:


Free Swift Watch parking is available at Montgomery Park and SELCO Community Credit Union. Do not expect to find on-street parking near the event – please park at Montgomery and SELCO if at all possible.

  • Montgomery Park is located six blocks from Chapman at 2701 NW Vaughn St. Note: from the Chapman area, NW Vaughn cannot be accessed from NW 27th, 28th or 29th Ave.
  •  SELCO Community Credit Union is located at NW 25th and Thurman. Note: The SELCO lot will be available each night any time after 6:00 p.m.

We Need Your Help!

Please be a good neighbor to Chapman-area residents: 1) Do not expect to find on-street parking, so park for free at Montgomery Park and SELCO Community Credit Union or use other transit options. 2) During the event, leash and pick up after dogs. 3) After the event, pick up your trash and do not loiter on school grounds. 4) It is illegal to consume alcoholic beverages or smoke on public school grounds.

Here’s more information about the work of the Audubon Society of Portland, which promotes the understanding, enjoyment, and protection of native birds, other wildlife and their habitats.

Conservation: We protect and advocate for birds and other wildlife in our city and across the region. We also work to ensure all Portland-area residents have easy access to nature.

Education: Our expert educators offer environmental camps, classes and trips for all ages.

Wildlife rehabilitation: Our Wildlife Care Center provides specialty care for native wild animals that are injured or orphaned. The center also answers inquiries about living with urban wildlife.

Sanctuaries: We run nature sanctuaries in the mountains, city and coast. They protect habitat, showcase healthy ecosystems, and provide places for people to connect with nature.

Birding: We help people of all ages and backgrounds get involved in birding by organizing a variety of birding and natural history activities.