Vaux’s Swift Migration Is Unusual This Year

LCAS hosted two Swift Events this fall, as usual. What was unusual about the events was that we saw virtually NO Vaux’s Swifts. During the first evening, September 11, we saw three swifts fly over the Agate Hall chimney. No swifts have been seen at the chimney since.

Typically the peak of migration is mid-September to early October. This year, there were reports of 1,820 swifts entering the chimney on August 28, and 774 the following week. The firefighters at the adjacent fire station told us that on September 4 they observed thousands filling the sky.

Those numbers are good news, but questions remain: Why did the swifts migrate so early this year? Why are the numbers nowhere near the numbers we are used to seeing? There were also eBird reports of Vaux’s Swifts in Arizona early in September, causing some to speculate that the migration route ran east of the Cascades this year.

We have many questions and no answers about the changes in the swift migration observed this year. We can only hope that the population is healthy and is just following a different pattern this year. It will be interesting to see what the spring Swift Events bring.