Tuesday, September 13, 2011

My Evening with the Swifts

I saw one of the most exciting things I've seen in a long time tonight. My good friend Erin and I went downtown Portland to Chapman school to watch the swift birds dance and twirl in the sky, spiraling  into their cozy chimney for the night. Videos just don't do justice to the beauty of it all, but I've attached a portion of one just to get an idea. I've never been to this September show, and neither had Erin. So when we arrived and found our spot on the grass, we really didn't know what we were in for. There were a few swift birds lazily circling the sky above us...but this was only the beginning. As dusk approached, thousands and thousands of swifts appeared out of no where and began circling in the sky above us. They came in together, tighter and tighter, forming perfect black cyclones. They spun, and churned and twisted above us. "I wonder if they could poop on us?"inquired my friend, Erin.
"Nah," I answered. "I don't think they will."
About five minutes later, a nice big green plop fell from the heavens and landed squarely on my white sleeve. I guess they can poop. And they had their target.

Anyhow, I was mesmerized by the swirling circus above me. The mass of birds began to descend towards the chimney, one bird bravely breaking away from the group and diving into the shelter for the night. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a big hawk swooped in, attacked the birds, trying to find a tasty morsel for supper. The crowd gasped in delight at the predator, cheering for his success. The hawk certainly interrupted the flow  of the dance; but after a few minutes of chaos, the birds reunited again and returned to their acrobatic cadence.
video
They entertained us for about an hour, until the sun finally set over Portland. Finally, they did one last magnificent tumble in the fading sky and looped into their resting place.
And there they sleep, nestled together in their warm chimney for the night. Just like that, the once busy sky is dark. The curtain is closed. And all the amused spectators clap and cheer for the pretty little birds who preformed for us on this most perfect evening in September.