Swift Watch at Portland elementary school canceled due to COVID

Multnomah County
Migratory Bird Decline_352786

In this Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2016 photo, migratory Vaux’s Swifts are a blur as they race to roost for the night inside a large, brick chimney at Chapman Elementary School in Portland, Ore. Numbers of Vaux’s Swifts are in decline, in part scientists say because of the destruction of the brick chimneys that they use to roost during their annual fall migration. (AP Photo/Don Ryan)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — For the second year in a row, the Portland Audubon announced it’s canceling the annual public viewing of Vaux’s Swifts at Chapman Elementary School due to COVID-19. 

The swifts, which return to the same roosting spot in the chimney at Chapman Elementary, usually draw a large crowd of spectators who enjoy watching them circle in the sky before funneling into the chimney for the night.  

Portland Audubon made the announcement Friday “with a heavy heart.” 

“The crowds that Swift Watch attracts are far too large to allow for safe COVID-19 distancing, especially considering the arrival of the Delta variant,” the organization said in a statement. 

Portland Audubon also said it does not have enough resources in place to deal with parking, crowd management, garbage cleanup, and other logistics needed to make Swift Watch a success. 

Since the 1980s, Vaux’s Swifts have been coming to Oregon from Central America and Venezuela in late April. But in September, they make the return trip. 

Typically, watch parties are set for each night in September, beginning about an hour before sunset. 

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