Archive for September, 2009

The Swifts

Marci tells me our friend Dave is trying to save money so he’s going to see The Swifts tonight. Would I like to go? How is Dave going to save money seeing The Swifts? Who are The Swifts? What kind of music do they play? Are they worth the cash?



I soon find out that The Swifts are a type of bird. As they migrate south The swifts live for a week in a large chimney of an elementary school in NW Portland. I go with Marci to check it out.

The grounds of the school are packed with families, teenagers, punks and dogs. It’s an annual tradition as much for the birds as it is for the casual bird watcher. Looking up at the large chimney there must be thousands of the little black birds circling around waiting to go to sleep. Different patterns form and dissipate. I’m told to watch out for a hawk attack. Great drama for the crowd. For fun we each try to follow one bird for as long as possible, like watching a three card monte con artist.
I’ve never been much of a bird watcher but I easily get caught up in the evening’s energy and the profound nature of the bird’s flight. It’s all very comforting to be part of such a pure and innocent event, filled with good cheer. Watching the birds is meditative and relaxing.
At 7:36 the crowd started applauding as the first group of birds began descending into the chimney disappearing from sight. Hundreds swoop down at a time, while hundreds more wait their turn.
The crowd applauds everytime they think the last bird has finally gone and every time more come spiraling downward. It’s nearly dark when the last group of swifts go to bed. They’ll come out in the morning and do all over again tomorrow evening until they’ve decided they’ve had enough of Portland and hit the road again.

I might go back later this week to see it again, and if not I hope to be around next year and bring some friends or family. “You have to see The Swifts,” I’ll say.VASW_OnTheWing_swiftsmoviehttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swift


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