• Photo by Mike Houck

The Swifts are back! Every September, a flock of Vaux's Swifts stops by Portland on their migratory trail, spending about a month in Portland and roosting in the chimney of the Chapman Elementary School in NW Portland. Longtime Portlanders know this tradition, but maybe some newer residents don't, or maybe you've never gotten around to seeing it—I lived here for a few years before even bothering to check it out, so don't make that mistake. It's really amazing: Every night at sundown, the huge flock of birds spirals into the chimney for the night, taking maybe half and hour to maybe all get in. It's a reverse tornado of birds, and it's a natural phenomenon not to be missed.

Anyway, it's September, and the middle of the month is when the flock size is at its greatest. Anywhere between now and the end of the month should be an excellent time to check it out. In all earnestness, this is one of the coolest things about living in Portland—if you haven't ever been to check it out, definitely do so. The Audobon Society of Portland has more information on the swift watch here.

Chapman Elementary School, 1445 NW 26th, every night through September