Seeking Swifts in L.A.

October 2, 2018

by Jeff Chapman

Every spring and fall, small migratory birds, called Vaux’s Swifts, pass through Los Angeles on their way to breed in the north or to spend winters in the south. For many years, these birds have used old chimneys in Downtown Los Angeles as resting locations as they journey for thousands of miles.

Vaux’s Swifts using communal roosting site in Downtown Los Angeles, 2013. Photo: Jeff Chapman

These old chimneys are popular “roosting” sites, being able to attract several thousand birds in a single evening -– you can see a roosting site featured in the Natural History Museum’s Nature Lab. However, many of these chimneys have been demolished, covered, or otherwise made unsuitable for the birds over the years. L.A. is an important stopping point for Vaux's Swifts as they make their journey from Canada and the Pacific Northwest to Southern Mexico and Central America.

Now, Los Angeles Audubon Society is looking to the community to help find the current roosting site for the Vaux's Swifts. It could be anywhere in the L.A. basin. If you see groupings of swifts in the late afternoon or early evening, Los Angeles Audubon Society wants to know because it could help pinpoint their roosting location. 

Here’s some video from a former roosting site in downtown Los Angeles:

How to identify swifts:

How to report observations of swifts:

(Posted by: Jeff Chapman)

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