As twilight approaches, the swifts drop lower and lower, circling the tall chimney with increased urgency. At times, the whirling vortex of birds resembles a living tornado, being sucked magically into the brick tower. Such is the spectacle that even nonbirders exiting the school, or adjacent library, stop dead in their tracks. Eyes drawn skyward by the flurry of staccato notes, the people will stop and stare at the mass of birds. I sometimes wonder what they think. Does the awe-inspring sight of hundreds of Chimney Swifts darting into a chimney send them to Google when they reach home? Or do most people just dismiss the birds as "bats" and resolve to call the city and urge them to do something about the problem.
Here is a brief video I made of the swifts last night. This was just after sunset, and birds were pouring into the chimney. This roosting operation will go on for a few more weeks, and then these incredible aerialists will strike out for South America where they'll spend the winter. If you've got a swift roost nearby, take the time to visit and witness the show for yourself. Better yet, take a kid along. They'll surely be fascinated.
Columbus Audubon hosts an event known as "Swift Night Out", and encourages people to visit this very school where I made these photos and video. It'll be on the evening of September 9, and the details are RIGHT HERE. Try and make it over if you can. It'll be worth it.