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Swift Night Out #1
August 12, 6:00 pm–8:00 pm
Update: The viewing location for this first Swift Night Out will be near the Sherman Industries facility, 2nd Avenue South at 12th Street. Look for a purple industrial building and a large, in-progress bird mural!
Swift Nights Out are back in Birmingham! Join us downtown as we enjoy the first of three summer evenings with one of our favorite urban birds, the Chimney Swift (Chaetura pelagica).
After these aerial acrobats have fledged their young and cleared out their nests, the entire North American population makes its way south to winter along the remote headwaters of the Amazon River. On their way there, they congregate in huge roosting flocks with as many as two or three thousand birds sharing a single chimney—numbers that make for a tremendous spectacle when they all pour into the tiny opening at once.
After meeting for dinner and conversation at Birmingham’s new Pizitz Food Hall, we’ll walk, carpool, or bicycle to one of downtown’s active swift chimneys. Together, we’ll wait for sunset (7:36 p.m.), watch the swifts work themselves up into their nightly “swiftnado,” and then count the number of individuals who enter the roost. Best of all, the data we produce will help researchers at the Chimney Swift Conservation Association (chimneyswift.org) get a better sense of trends in eastern swift populations and the effects of climate change on these birds’ annual migratory cycle.
Dinner meetup is at 6 p.m. at Pizitz (1821 2nd Ave N). Plenty of food options—from vegetarian ramen to decidedly un-vegetarian chicken-and-waffles—are available; for more information about what’s on offer, visit their website. While free, after-hours parking can be found on the street, there’s also a convenient parking deck located on the corner of 18th Street and 1st Avenue North that provides the first two hours for free.
Which chimney we visit after dinner will depend on the work of our dedicated Chimney Swift scouting volunteers; they’ll spend part of August looking for active roosts and identifying the most convenient spots for viewing. Check back here for more details, or RSVP by email to the Outreach Director for updates shortly before the event. This is especially important if you plan on skipping dinner and meeting us at the viewing location around 7 p.m.
While we usually see more migratory activity during our September and October events, the August Swift Night Out helps us to get a good baseline for numbers as the season begins. Binoculars are handy, but certainly not necessary for viewing the swifts as they assemble in the skies above the chimney. And if you’re a social media user, we strongly encourage you to share your thoughts and photos with the hashtag #BhamSwiftnado.
Love swifts? Support our efforts to build Chimney Swift nesting towers throughout Birmingham.
Note: For those attending the West Alabama and Tombigbee River trip in the morning, making dinner at 6 p.m. might be tricky. Contact the Outreach Director if you need last-minute details on where and when to meet.
The trip leader
Greg Harber usually leads this event, although he’ll have to skip the dinner at Pizitz, as he’ll be returning from the field trip mentioned above. He should still be reachable via cell phone (205-807-8055) for questions on the day of the event.