Wake Audubon Blog

Other American Swifts

i Jul 18th No Comments by

We focus on the Chimney Swift because this species lives across the eastern half of North America. We are working to protect this species, which is threatened by loss of nesting and roosting habitat.  But there are three other species of swifts in North America. What about them? Our symposium on August 21st will provide more information on all the American swifts. Here is some background information.

In western America there are no Chimney Swifts (maybe a few wanderers), however, there are three other swift species: Vaux’s, White-throated, and Black Swifts. Vaux’s Swifts, Chaetura vauxi , breed in the Pacific Northwest – British Columbia, Washington and Oregon. They nest in hollows of large trees, a resource that is disappearing as old growth forests continue to be logged. They have also started nesting in chimneys. This is the same story as we have with the Chimney Swifts.  The Vaux’s Swifts migrate to their wintering habitat in Central America and Venezuela. During their migration, large flocks of up to 20,000 birds can be seen entering large chimneys along the route. A popular viewing site is in Portland, Oregon. Visit the Audubon Portland website to learn more and see  more pictures of the Vaux’s Swift.

Vaux's Swift photo by Tom Johnson

Vaux’s Swift photo by Tom Johnson

White-throated Swift’s, Aeronautes saxatalis, breed in the Rocky Mountains and high plains of America. Unlike the Chimney and Vaux’s Swifts, the White-throated Swifts build their nests on the sides of cliffs and roost in large groups in the fissures of cliff faces during migration. Their wintering grounds are in the Southwestern US, Mexico and Central America.

White-throated Swift photo by Michael Woodruff

White-throated Swift photo by Michael Woodruff

The Black Swift, Cypseloides niger, is the largest swift, but its population is the smallest. They can be found nesting on cliffs from the American plains to the Pacific Ocean. They even nest on the rock cliffs behind waterfalls. They are mostly found in British Columbia, but local populations exist throughout the western US.  Recent information puts their wintering grounds in Brazil.  Although we focus mainly on the Chimney Swift, you can learn more about all of the swift species at Wake Audubon’s Swift Symposium. Please join us on Friday, August 21st from 6-9 pm at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences.

Black Swift photo by Manuel Martin

Black Swift photo by Manuel Martin

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