From Our Treasurer: Simple Pleasures

Talking with a longtime friend on a warm evening in early September, I discovered he had never seen the Vaux’s Swifts entering the chimney at the Old Condon School near Hayward Field on the University of Oregon campus. The building with the chimney is now called Agate Hall. If you haven’t yet seen the swifts descending into the chimney to roost each evening for a couple of weeks in September and again in April as they migrate through, be sure to put it on your bucket list of birding events. See next April’s Quail for details on Lane County Audubon’s “gatherings” celebrating their spring migration.

The next day, my friend, his wife, and I headed to the chimney, and happened upon a couple of other Audubon folks there doing “citizen science,” counting the number of swifts entering their temporary roost as they migrated south in the fall. There were also a few neighborhood residents who had dropped by to witness the spectacle. It was near sunset, and our small group of observers enjoyed an easy conviviality, sharing our enthusiasm and wonder.

The swifts didn’t disappoint. They began circling right before sunset and gradually increased in numbers until they filled the sky, circling the chimney like a tornado, getting ready to retire for the night.

The counters estimated about 4,500 birds! After several false starts, the swifts began descending into the chimney. The “resident” Cooper’s Hawk showed up for dinner. Although we rooted against him, the hawk nabbed a swift and flew off to eat its evening meal. But the rest of the swifts safely made it into the chimney to rest for the night before emerging the next morning in search of insects. Such is a day in the life of migrating Vaux’s Swifts, and in the lives of a small group of people fascinated with these birds’ habits and behaviors.

This is what Lane County Audubon Society (LCAS) is about at its core—a group of local people who like to share their love and enthusiasm for birds. LCAS has many ways of doing so: through our birding events and bird walks, our monthly educational talks on birds and their habitats, and our school programs that help youngsters to learn about birds and bird biology. See this website: /education/audubon-adventures for information on Audubon Adventures, one such program supported solely by LCAS members).

Since we are a volunteer organization with no paid staff, we depend on outside funding to cover the material costs of offering these opportunities. Each November we ask our members to support our efforts with a tax-deductible gift. It’s easy to contribute; just mail your donation in the envelope inserted in this month’s Quail, or give online at laneaudubon.org/support/donate. You can renew your annual local membership on our website as well. The birds and LCAS will love you for it!