Save Our Swifts
The Vaux’s Swift Project
To find out more about the Vaux's Swift Project, run by our own Larry Schwitters, and to see live video of the Wagner Center chimney, click here. The best time of day to look for the swifts is at night from about an hour after sunset until sunrise.
The Latest Swift Counts
Below are the latest counts from our volunteer swift counters at the Wagner Center Chimney in Monroe:
(image courtesy of Cassandra Profita, OPB/EarthFix)
Building A Better Birdhouse: Creating Shelter For Swifts As Old Chimneys Disappear
Read more about our own Larry Schwitters and his efforts to Save Our Swifts by erecting chimneys where the swifts can roost!
(image courtesy of monroeswifts.org)
Swift Night Out
Saturday, September, 8 2016
from 4 pm till dusk
Wagner Center, 639 West Main, Monroe
Celebrate the Vaux's Swift migration and watch thousands of birds come to roost in the chimney at Wagner Center. The Monroe Swift Watch will have delicious spaghetti dinners available for purchase (just $6.50 for Spaghetti and Salad Dinner) and there will be hotdogs, dessert, beverages, and other snacks available. Activities include children's games and crafts, wildlife education booths, the Vaux's Swift research station, and swift headbands.
Free parking is available at Monroe City Hall, Frank Wagner Elementary, and Park Place Middle School. ADA parking is available across from the Center at Windermere Real Estate.
Monroe Swift Night Out Was a Rousing Success
by Judy Alles, Chairman, Monroe Swift Night Out Committee
September 22, 2014
Thanks to all the volunteers and community groups who made Monroe Swift Night Out at the Wagner Center in Monroe on September 13th such a rousing success. Whether behind the scenes or on the front lines, their efforts were essential to the public’s enjoyment of the event. The crowd was large (more than 1,800 folks). The weather was beautiful. And the Vaux's Swifts put on a spectacular show!
Larry Schwitters, world-renowned swift expert, gave an informative lecture that was both entertaining and educational. His yearly presentation is a "must-see" part of this event. Vikki Berard, principal at Frank Wagner Elementary School, was a delightful emcee and Hugo Molina, assistant principal at Frank Wagner and Chain Lake Elementary Schools, assisted on-lookers and participants.
Thanks to the staff at the Monroe School District and the City of Monroe for the help they gave us and to the Monroe Chamber of Commerce. And to Kim Hoover of the Monroe Arts Council, who provided the Wagner Auditorium for our use. What a lovely, old building that is.
A great big thanks to the Monroe-Sky Valley YMCA for providing tables and fun activities for the children. Did you see those darling paper-plate birds that the children made? And to the Swift Clubs from Frank Wagner Elementary and Fryelands Elementary, which had children’s activities, swift headbands and a bean bag toss into a replica chimney. And to the Frank Wagner PTA, which had a booth with children’s projects and refreshments. Children had lots of fun things to do at this event.
A special thank you goes to all the booths that participated that evening. The Seattle Audubon Society booth, where Neil and Carleen Zimmerman presented a variety of bird skins (from chickadees to hawks) for visitors to touch and examine, was a big hit! The Bats NW booth was fascinating. The PAW’s booth was magnetic. And the Pilchuck Audubon Society booth was quite informative. Once again, Leann Jacobson, her daughter Rebecca, and her able crew, outdid themselves with the spaghetti dinner, hot dogs and apple crisp. So delicious! If you didn’t get a chance to have any, be sure to get some next year.
The Monroe Digital Copy Center donated pages from the Vaux’s swifts coloring book in both English and Spanish to give to the children who came to the event. And the Monroe Wild Birds Unlimited store made numerous behind-the-scenes contributions.
And we cannot forget Mike Farrell and his crew from the Monroe Parks and Recreation Department who provided that ingredient essential to any public event—garbage cans and sani-cans. Thanks much, Mike!
And it goes without saying that we could not have done this event without the support of the media. How many people would have missed it without them? The Monroe Monitor/Valley News, the Woodinville Weekly, The Herald and other publications wrote wonderful articles on Swift Night Out. And King 5 TV’s Evening Magazine did an excellent feature story on the Monroe chimney the night before the event. All of which contributed to the largest audience ever at the Wagner chimney on Swift Night Out. Thanks to each and every one for their support!
And we must not forget our docents, who distributed brochures and answered questions that evening (as well as all month long at the chimney). It is so wonderful to come to the chimney to see the swifts and to have your questions answered on the spot. Of course, you can check out several websites for more information about the Vaux’s swifts, the Wagner chimney in Monroe as well as other roost chimneys from Canada to California, and our latest adventures with the swifts, such as radio tracking 6 swifts from Yakima in this migration (first time this has ever been done): monroeswifts.org and vauxhappening.org.
Kudos especially to Cindy Easterson for taking charge that night while our chairman was out-of-town. She did an excellent job of overseeing the event and taking care of numerous last-minute details. And an especially big thank you goes to the members of the Monroe Swift Night Out Committee, who spent many hours over several months planning the event and contributed their time and effort in so many ways that night. It is a delight to work with such an incredible group of people, who accept a challenge and can be counted on to do what they say they will do. They are really awesome!
And, of course, our thank you's would not be complete without a great big THANK YOU to all the people who came to Monroe Swift Night Out. The people who sat on the lawn, in chairs, or stood watching the swifts perform their aerial acrobatics and while witnessing an incredible act of nature. These are the same people who got caught up in the experience and clapped wholeheartedly when the last bird entered the chimney. Without you, there would be no event. Thank you for coming!
But there’s something to see every night, not just on Swifts Night Out! For several weeks in both the spring (April and May) and fall (September and October) you can witness an amazing natural event occurring in our community, and watch thousands of these birds swirl into a 40-ft chimney in just minutes!
Time: Around sunset – see the chart below
Frank Wagner Center
639 W Main St, Monroe, WA 98272
Old Town Monroe on Main Street, between Kelsey St. and Dickinson Rd.
Here are some Frequently Asked Questions:
When should I arrive?
The swifts begin gathering in the sky above the school in large numbers an hour or more before sunset. Often, closer to sunset, the swifts begin circling directly above the school chimney in a large flock before dropping in huge numbers into the chimney. They often start to enter the chimney a half-hour to an hour before sunset. If there are extraordinary numbers of swifts, they will start entering the chimney even earlier in order to get all of them in by sunset. See below for sunset chart.
How many swifts will there be?
At the peak of the fall migration, thousands are expected. On September 7, during the 2011 fall migration, 26,552 Vaux’s Swifts were observed flying into the Frank Wagner Elementary School chimney. The Fall Migration is usually much larger than the spring migration because young swifts migrate with their parents then.
How long will they be in Monroe?
Probably until the end of September or even early October but in much lower numbers by then. The best viewing is expected to be in the first weeks of September.
Monroe Sunset Chart, September 2014 (each year this will be about the same)
Date – Sunset
1st – 7:51pm
2nd – 7:49
3rd – 7:47
4th – 7:45
5th – 7:43
6th – 7:41
7th – 7:39
8th – 7:37
9th – 7:35
10th – 7:33
11th – 7:30
12th – 7:28
13th – 7:26
14th – 7:24
15th – 7:22
16th – 7:20
17th – 7:18
18th – 7:16
19th – 7:14
20th – 7:12
21st – 7:10
22nd – 7:08
23rd – 7:06
24th – 7:04
25th – 7:02
26th – 6:59
27th – 6:57
28th – 6:55
29th – 6:53
30th – 6:51
A Project to Save the Vaux's Swifts
Our chapter has been instrumental in protecting and researching the Vaux Swifts that travel through Snohomish County twice each year. Starting in 2007, with the realization that the swifts were roosting in an Monroe elementary school chimney which was slated to be torn down, Pilchuck has been involved in saving that chimney and supporting the research needed to protect this declining species. The Frank Wagner Elementary School chimney is one of the most used roosting sites on the Vaux's migratory path and is also the only place on their southern Central America to northern Canada route with video cams installed to observe and learn more about this aerial species. In 2010, we received one of 48 National Innovation Grants from TogetherGreen to support our efforts and we have collaborated with Eastside and Seattle Audubon chapters since then on this project. Please visit this Youtube site to view a video of the roosting swifts at Frank Wagner School during the Swift Night Out event on September 15, 2012. The video was taken by Larry Bridges.
Please visit our web site:
For more info on Swifts
For answers to some Frequently Asked Questions about Vaux's Swifts, please click here.
Click here for additional Vaux's Swift info courtesy of Seattle Audubon Society.
This collaborative effort has inspired the creation of a cool and informative website; please visit vauxhappening.org.
For some amazing video from the Monroe Swift Webcam, see wdfw.wa.gov/wildwatch/vauxcam/
Swift Migration Numbers
View a graphic showing the number of northbound swifts counted at Monroe's Wagner Elementary and King County's Selleck Old Schoolhouse, 2008-2012
Pilchuck Audubon appreciates and thankfully acknowledges its co-sponsors in this collaborative project:
Monroe School District
Department of Fish and Wildlife
Wild Birds Unlimited in Monroe
Help Save the Swifts-Send a Donation Today
Please send your tax deductible donation (payable to Pilchuck Audubon Society, noting "Save the Swifts" on the memo line) to:
Pilchuck Audubon Society
Attention: Carolyn Lacy
1429 Avenue D, PMB 198
Snohomish, WA 98290-1742