[birding] Fwd: Should we be worried? (Key Vaux's Swift migration roosts)

Joel Geier joel.geier at peak.org
Sat Feb 28 19:30:18 PST 2015

Hi all,

Larry Schwitters (based in the Puget Sound area of Washington) has been
a tireless documenter and advocate for Vaux's Swifts, whose annual
return we can look forward to in April.

Most of these roosting sites that he mentions are outside of our local
area, but it's a reminder of how birds that we see locally can depend on
conservation in a lot of their stopovers along the way.

Happy migration,

-------- Forwarded Message --------
From: Larry Schwitters <leschwitters at me.com>
To: Larry Schwitters <leschwitters at me.com>
Subject: Should we be worried?
Date: Sat, 28 Feb 2015 17:55:03 -0800

Swift Seekers,

A lot for you to read here at the end of the month.

Project Coordinator Schwitters lists the top roost sites with a brief
description of how worried he is about each being screened over, filled
with concrete, or blown up.

>From Mexico to Canada, numbers are the largest documented north and
south one day totals.

12.  San Diego Church Lofts N 10,000 S 1,000  Bird numbers have been
down.  We don't know if the owners are even aware of the swifts and
there has been minimal awareness efforts.  A 16? story building just
moved in next door.  Somebody needs to put some effort into this or it's
going to be a goner.

8.  Los Angeles Chester Williams Building  N 10,000 S 13,200  Jeff
Chapman put a lot of time, trouble, and effort presenting the swifts to
Big O LA.   Then this happened
 http://www.scpr.org/blogs/environment/2012/10/15/10490/will-chester-williams-building-continue-house-migr/   In the end the birds lost.  There was/is a lot of hope the swifts would settle into another chimney in the same block.  This is not going to be easy. 

5. N SF Bay McNear Brick  N 480  S 24,710  What a migration they had
last September/October!  (321,727) Rusty and others continue to keep a
close eye of these three big stacks and the owner is ok with the birds.
 But this is serious earthquake country and these are tall brittle
structures serving no business function.  Here's a prime candidate for
IBA recognition.

7.  Rio Lindo  N 500  S 23,000    This private school has been hosting
these birds and a lot of humans watching the spectacle for quite a while
and the swifts are lucky they have Brad living on campus.  The chimney
is our only roost that serves as a functional vent for the warm air
coming from their heating boiler.  I don't see any dark clouds on the
horizon for Rio Lindo except for the human spectacle watchers getting
shut out.

14. The Amazing Redwood  N 1,468  S 5,696  Was not a good year for the
roost tree.  Maybe the swifts were in a hurry to get to San Francisco.
Maybe they found a tree they liked better.  I believe this redwood and
the land it's on is owned by a logging company.  That might not be good.

13. Roseburg Clay Place  N 1,720  S 6,370  Every since Diana Wales
became involved this surprisingly small structure has been packing in
the birds and the spectators.  It's short, made of sturdy concrete, and
on city property.  At the moment, no worries.

9.  Eugene Agate Hall  N 9,000  S 12,000  The building is owned by the U
of Oregon and has some steel earthquake cables attached.  The birds may
be safe here, well except for the predators, especially Cooper's Hawks.
There's been more than one migration where the Eugene Vaux's slept

10. Albany Fire Station  N 11,740  S 7,480  They're tearing this
firehouse down but are willing to consider the swifts in the new
construction.  There's a lot of other sites in the area and the swifts
have been spreading around the joy, so we're not sure we want to make a
stand (tower) here.

11. Oregon City Downtown  N 4,743  S 7,005  The owner of these crumbling
bricks don't like them birds and may have already done something to
discourage them.  Or maybe not, and they just decided to make
reservations elsewhere.  There are three other Oregon City chimneys
they've been using in smaller numbers lately.  The old high school has
the most potential.

2. Portland Chapman School  N 10,000  S 21,000  This is the most famous
of all swift communal migratory roost sites and the battle to keep this
site available to the swifts was fought and won years ago.  Now Portland
Audubon spends most of their energy on crowd control.  Wouldn't be
surprised if viewing privileges become restricted.

6. Joint Base Lewis McCord  N 8,440  S 15,440  This is one of four
Washington roosts with an IBA and it's a minor miracle we've gotten so
many observations there.  The army is well aware of the significance of
this surplus property but still might use it for target practice.

4. Selleck Old School House N 8,251  S 17,591  Having had observations
nearly every evening for the last 14 migrations has a lot to do with how
far it is up on the list.  The property owners, who value their privacy
and don't mind the swifts, have been just great. I wonder if Selleck
will continue to have the numbers to be considered a major site and if
not where did they go.

1. Monroe Wagner School  N 21,027  S 26,552  This is where it all
began.  A lot of Audubon folks put a lot of effort getting it ready for
an earthquake and making it a wildlife viewing destination.  It's the
only site with attached predator controls and viewing cameras.

3. Old Northern State Hospital  N 8,190  S 20,965  This sprawling
property with it's huge concrete stack, only 35 miles from the Canadian
border, is a stunning, fascinating place.  There's even a book, "Under
the Red Roof" by Mary McGoffin about
it. http://www.amazon.com/Under-The-Red-Roof-Northern/dp/0692013733
Many wards of the state lived, died, and were buried here.  
The state still owns it and has been using it mostly as a secure site
for their Cascade Job Corps program.  Two years ago this came along.
 http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/proposal-to-build-resort-at-former-northern-state-hospital-draws-support/  The "best" part is the "four-to six-mile-long high-speed road course for private cars and motorcycles."  Bet the sleepy little swifts are going to like that.  But it would mean jobs and money coming into Sedro Woolley.  What good are them birds anyway?  But you know what?, something light years better, and totally awesome has just been proposed for Northern State.  Tell you all about it early next month.

Swiftly into March,

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