Swift Encounter

Swift Encounter

Hedrick Middle School teachers and Southern Oregon Land Conservancy prepare to introduce students to their feathery neighbors

By Karen Hussey, SOLC Land Steward
Originally published in the June 2018 edition of The Chat;
the Rogue Valley Audubon Society's monthly newsletter

Thanks to a grant from Rogue Valley Audubon Society, the Hedrick Hornets will get to meet the Hedrick Swifts!

It’s a little-known fact in the Rogue Valley that Hedrick Middle School is one of the most important fall migratory stops for the Vaux’s Swift. The small birds cannot perch like other birds. They spend all day long in the air and only get to rest at an adequate roosting site when the sun goes down. They need safe, hollow spaces that have the right texture for clinging and and with room to fit enough birds to keep everyone warm.

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Historically swifts roosted in large hollow trees but those are harder to find these days so they have adapted to spending the night in chimneys as well. Newer chimneys don’t have the right texture for gripping and few suitable older places remain.

 Vaux's Swifts entering Chapman Elementary School chimney. Photo by Scott Carpenter courtesy of  Audubon Society of Portland .

Vaux's Swifts entering Chapman Elementary School chimney. Photo by Scott Carpenter courtesy of Audubon Society of Portland.

Because the birds come to roost at the school well after the final bell rings and fly out before students arrive, the birds and students have not had an opportunity to meet. Until now. Southern Oregon Land Conservancy has begun working with teachers to plan curriculum and activities for this fall's swift migration stopover. Students will get to see the magical swirl of swifts entering the chimney (and it DOES look magical!), participate in an international citizen science program, host an evening family event, and incorporate the little birds into their English, social studies, math, and science learning standards.

Look for another report here in the fall! Thanks RVAS!!


Sign-up to Survey Swifts

Karen Hussey will be organizing Vaux's Swifts counts at two chimneys in Medford and one in Jacksonville this fall. If you would like to be part of this citizen science project during their migration season, contact Karen to be added to her list of volunteers.

karen@landconserve.org
541-482-3069 ext: 106

 2017 Vaux's Swift Watch and Count at Eden Valley Orchards. Photo by Crystal Nichols.

2017 Vaux's Swift Watch and Count at Eden Valley Orchards. Photo by Crystal Nichols.