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Roseburg Audubon hosts watch parties for thousands of migrating birds

A group of people, standing and in lawn chairs, look up at a chimney
Umpqua Valley Audubon Society
People gather to watch Vaux's Swifts enter the chimney at sunset in Roseburg's Stewart Park

Select locations in the Willamette Valley are hosting thousands of migratory birds right now.

Vaux’s Swifts migrate between Canada and Central and South America, twice a year. They form tornado-like spirals when they roost each night, often in manmade structures like out-of-use chimneys.

Birds swirl around the top of a chimney
Umpqua Audubon Society
Birds enter the Clay Place chimney in Roseburg.

Clay Place in Roseburg has been a stop-over for decades, said Diana Wales, president of the Umpqua Valley Audubon Society. But the birds can be fickle. They didn’t show up last year.

”We don’t know exactly why that happened," she said. "We also don’t know exactly why they’re back. But they are. And the numbers vary from night to night, (and) can depend on a lot of factors. The migration goes on for roughly a month and you never know what the show is going to be each night.”

Wales said "Swift Watch" takes place in Stewart Park on Sept. 8, 15, and 22 at sunset. She said there have been 1,500 to 3,000 birds per night so far, and that number may double by mid-month.

Wales said those interested should arrive to the Fir Grove area of the park at least a half hour before sunset. Audubon members will be on hand to talk about the birds, and there will be music from Swifts Sisters and Friends.

The area around the chimney is open to the public on other days of the week as well.

There are also Vaux’s roosting spots at Agate Hall on the UO campus, and in a couple of locations in Corvallis.

Karen Richards joined KLCC as a volunteer reporter in 2012, and became a freelance reporter at the station in 2015. In addition to news reporting, she’s contributed to several feature series for the station, earning multiple awards for her reporting.
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