Watch the evening skies for swirling chimney swifts

Photo by Jonathan Welch.

The chimney swifts are swirling again. They’ve been sighted in Raleigh and Columbia, according to Sept. 22 reports on

Downtown Asheville typically sees thousands swirling over chimneys in the evening as they prepare to roost late September and into October, prior to migrating.

Last year, the eighth annual Swift Watch took place Oct. 2 on the Civic Center Parking Deck at 7 p.m.

The folks at PARC said last year:

We’ve seen thousands of swifts going into this chimney already this year, and they’re also using the chimney at Asheville Middle School. We’ve seen no swifts at the Grove Arcade, though.

Watch the swifts swirl in striking patterns every evening at dusk, circling together before they drop down into their chimney of choice for the night. It’s amazing to see, and kids love it. Bring the whole family!

These birds eat mosquitos and other insects as they fly all day, never perching. They should be here for about another week or two. Their numbers will increase daily until they leave together on their long migration to Peru, usually starting around October 5th-10th. 

AshevilleCharlie posted this video in 2009 of images capured in 2006:

About Jeff Fobes
As a long-time proponent of media for social change, my early activities included coordinating the creation of a small community FM radio station to serve a poor section of St. Louis, Mo. In the 1980s I served as the editor of the "futurist" newsletter of the U.S. Association for the Club of Rome, a professional/academic group with a global focus and a mandate to act locally. During that time, I was impressed by a journalism experiment in Mississippi, in which a newspaper reporter spent a year in a small town covering how global activities impacted local events (e.g., literacy programs in Asia drove up the price of pulpwood; soybean demand in China impacted local soybean prices). Taking a cue from the Mississippi journalism experiment, I offered to help the local Green Party in western North Carolina start its own newspaper, which published under the name Green Line. Eventually the local party turned Green Line over to me, giving Asheville-area readers an independent, locally focused news source that was driven by global concerns. Over the years the monthly grew, until it morphed into the weekly Mountain Xpress in 1994. I've been its publisher since the beginning. Mountain Xpress' mission is to promote grassroots democracy (of any political persuasion) by serving the area's most active, thoughtful readers. Consider Xpress as an experiment to see if such a media operation can promote a healthy, democratic and wise community. In addition to print, today's rapidly evolving Web technosphere offers a grand opportunity to see how an interactive global information network impacts a local community when the network includes a locally focused media outlet whose aim is promote thoughtful citizen activism. Follow me @fobes

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5 thoughts on “Watch the evening skies for swirling chimney swifts

  1. epohs

    They have been gathering at the building on the other side of Haywood, across from Hotel Indigo for a few weeks now. It is impressive.

  2. Anne Fitten Glenn

    There were tons of them swirling around the chimney of the Citizen-Times building on Sunday morning before the road race.

  3. Rebecca

    There are swifts in our chimney every year – residence in Greensboro. We make lots of fires in our four fireplaces so I was wondering when the chimney would be available for our use. Even tho’ the damper is closed the flurry and “fury” of the winged departure actually creates a downward draft.

    Early in the summer they seem to be nesting and feeding the tiny ones because we hear a very chirpy sound of tiny ones.

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