Southern California environment news and trends

Birds, meet downtown. Downtown, meet birds: Vaux's swifts swoop over L.A.!


One vaux's swift is hard to come by: the cigar-shaped birds travel in swoops of thousands.

Believe me, it’s worth a look. A couple of years ago I covered the annual migration of vaux’s swifts as it stopped over in Los Angeles. Watching thousands of birds crowd themselves into a chimney for the night was amazing; when I think of non-Angelenos who think LA is all nutritionists and producers, I think of the Vaux's swifts.

Audubon Center at Debs Park will again be hosting gatherings in downtown L.A., tonight and next Friday. It costs $3 to park in the Joe’s Auto Park structure at 5th and Main, next door to where the birds swoop down into the chimney of the Chester Williams building. The best time to see this is just before dusk; the events happen between 6 and 7:30 each night.

Mark Jarman is the poet whose work, Chimney Swifts, I quoted in the story. It was published in an anthology of illustrated poems about birds. Here’s an excerpt:

Swifts funnel down at twilight
Into cold flues, chattering like children.

They speak their language and we listen
In our own, comparing them
To children, travelers, speed, and life itself,
Imparting a charmed knowledge unto us.

To them, there are two worlds--
The soot-thick shaft and the silky bowl of sky.

Debs Park has more information for you too.

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