The Foxy Vaux's Swift

September 2, 2015

By Kris Parfitt

Photo at right: Swifts swirling into the Frank Wagner Elementary School chimney in Monroe, WA. Photo courtesy of Bird Note


There is a unique event that happens twice a year in Monroe, and it doesn’t have anything to do with racing cars!

Come visit Monroe and celebrate the winter arrival of the second largest migratory roost of Vaux’s Swifts in North America at dusk on Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015 at the Frank Wagner Elementary School in old town Monroe, Washington.

Starting at 4:00 p.m., visitors can purchase food and non-alcoholic drinks, enjoy information booths with birds, art and more, and kids will find lots of fun activities to do before the show starts.

And what a show it is! Starting around dusk, (7:28 p.m. on Sept. 12, 2015), tens of thousands of Vaux’s Swifts will swirl into a 4 ft. square chimney within mere minutes! Before entering the chimney, the swifts gather and circle the tower together. As they enter the chimney, they reverse their head-first direction into a tail-first direction and begin to overlap one another like roof shingles to conserve body heat. It’s an amazing natural event that occurs twice a year in Monroe only during the spring and fall migrations.

Vaux’s (pronounced “Vawksiz”) Swifts migrate over 124,000 miles annually and eat over 20,000 insects a day. They visit Monroe in the fall, usually arriving in late-August and stay through mid-September. They spend summers as far north as central British Columbia, Canada and fly as far south as Venezuela in South America for the winter.

During the event there will be a fun-filled lecture in the Frank Wagner Auditorium at 6:30 p.m., and bird experts will be available from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. to answer questions. Bring a blanket or a lawn chair and come watch the show!

For more details: