From Sept 11 to 25th each year, upwards of 10,000 Vaux's Swifts (down from 35,000) gather at Chapman Elementary School. They traditionally made their roosts in hollow trees, but decided that Chapman's chimney worked just swell! Close to 2,000 Portlanders arrive each evening about an hour before sunset, put out chairs and blankets and enjoy a picnic while the kids slide downhill on pieces of cardboard or play soccer on the field below. After the aerial show, when it's too dark to see the last few birds, the audience gives them a standing ovation before packing up for the night.
The Chapman Swifts © 2/6/2020 Cecilia A. Eng
G C G D Fall is fast approaching. It’s that time of year!
G C A D The kids are back in school again. Migration time is near.
C G C D Vaux’s Swifts are gathering high up in the air
G C A D And at Chapman School they’ll swoop and dive as we sit back and stare.
A D Come away --
G CG A Bring the picnic and play!
C G It’s that time!
C G D - Chapman Swifts will fly!
G C G D In olden days the Vaux’s Swifts would roost in hollow trees
G C A D But those are hard to come by in modern times like these.
C G C D They gather as the season turns ere to the south they flee
G C A D And Chapman’s hollow chimney is as good as any tree! (chorus)
G C G D We gasp when raptors strike the flock, looking for their fee
G C A D And as they leave, we rise and cry, “Now’s the time to flee!”
C G C D As darkness falls, the first ones start into their hovering fall,
G C A D Entering the chimney, they follow one and all. (chorus)
G C G D Their spinning flight continues as ten by ten they go --
G C A D The tornado of the flock puts on quite a nightly show!
C G C D So pack some food, the drinks and kids and come with me my dear,
G C A D We’ll watch the swifts and when they leave, we’ll come back next year! (chorus)