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ROSEBURG — Umpua Valley Audubon Society's Swift Watch began Friday, Sept. 1. Swift Watch begins at approximately 6:30 p.m. and continues until sunset at the Fir Grove section of Stewart Park behind the Umpqua Valley Arts Center off of Harvard Ave. in Roseburg.

The next scheduled watches is Friday, Sept. 15 and Friday, Sept. 29.

Vaux’s swifts (pronounced “vawks”) nest only in Western North America, migrating to Central and South America for the winter. Each year, thousands of swifts gather in the chimney adjacent to The Clay Place in the Fir Grove section of Stewart Park off of Harvard Avenue behind the Umpqua Valley Arts Center during their spring migration. At sunset during migration, swifts gather in the dozens, sometimes hundreds or thousands, to communally roost. Typically, these roost sites are, as here, old industrial chimneys. While numbers vary from year to year, the display can be spectacular.

Umpqua Valley Audubon Society members will be available Friday evenings to serve as interpretive naturalists, with information and brochures about Vaux’s swifts as well as more general information about birding and our natural world.

In partnership with the Umpqua Valley Arts Association, each Friday evening local artists will be leading art activities for kids, free of charge. Children ages 5 and up; minors must be supervised by an adult.

Additionally, throughout September, Audubon members will be participating in a West Coast-wide data collection effort. Swifts have lost much of their natural habitat and the number of chimneys available for roosting and nesting is also on the decline. Little is known about even the most basic habits of Vaux’s swifts, to say nothing of how many there actually are. Working in conjunction with their partners up and down the West Coast, Audubon members hope to fill in some of the data gaps.

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This event is a partnership of Umpqua Valley Audubon Society, the City of Roseburg Parks & Recreation, and Umpqua Valley Arts Association.

For more information, contact Diana Wales at dianawales@centurylink.net or 541-677-0263.

Questions or comments? Email info@umpquaaudubon.org.

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