(707) 431-5100
(707) 431-5100

Vaux's Swift Migration

Swift Information

Due to limited staff, we will only be opening our campus to visitors on the following weekends:

Sept. 3-5, Sept. 10-12, and Sept. 17-19. 

We will have a donation box at the site and the suggested donation is $10 per vehicle. 

The gates will be open an hour before sunset and close at sunset.

Vaux’s Swifts have been roosting in the Rio Lindo Adventist Academy chimney since 1989, the first year the school’s boiler wasn’t producing steam year-round. The chimney is still used in the winter when the boiler generates heat for the school campus, but that is after the fall migration. The first small groups of migrating birds usually appear in mid-August. The numbers increase and generally peak between September 10 and 20. In an average year, the count peaks between 5,000 and 10,000 birds for a few evenings. The highest numbers that have been observed were in 2015 when a couple evenings the estimate was between 35,000 and 40,000 birds. We believe this was because of the Middletown fire which may have narrowed the migration path. The lowest was in 2005 when the highest count was only 300. This was a West Nile year.

The incredible sight of thousands of birds flying in a tornado-like pattern against the dusk sky is simply incredible. Bird and nature enthusiasts travel from all over to see this unforgettable phenomenon. Most years, the birds arrive in small numbers by the first of September and leave by the end of September. Check back with this website as numbers are posted on a regular basis.

Visitors

We are glad to welcome visitors to our campus to see the swifts. We only ask that you remember this is a boarding high school campus with students present 24 hours a day, seven days a week, which means no smoking or alcohol is allowed on the campus. Please keep dogs on a leash, even friendly ones. Also, please stay in the area around the chimney and do not roam the campus. Generally the best time to arrive on the campus is 30 minutes before sundown. We have observed that the time they begin to enter the chimney is sensitive to the air temperature (the colder it is the earlier they enter the chimney), sundown, and the number of birds here entering the chimney (the higher the number the earlier they begin to enter). Please leave the campus within 15 min. after the birds are finished going in the chimney.

Swift Count

Thank you to our new bird counter, Star, for getting these numbers up.

Swifts are counted by timing from the moment the swifts enter until they finish and multiplying the number of minutes by 360, which is determined by a video calculation that was performed by the Audubon Society in the early 1990s. The number is only an estimation and not precise.

2021 Swift Numbers

Date Estimated Number of swifts
September 2 
1500
September 3 3000
September 4 2200
September 5 5040
September 6 4050
September 7 3060
Sept. 8 2500
Sept. 9 2200
Sept. 10  
Sept. 11 2500
Sept. 12 2200
Sept. 13 43o0
Sept. 14 5000
Sept. 15 10,800
Sept. 16 9,400
Sept. 17 10,800
Sept. 18 22,00 (rainy night)
Sept. 19 3,420
Sept. 20 2,900
Sept. 21 2,160
Sept. 22 2,800

Donations

Thank you for your support in enabling us to keep this destination open for visitors. Donations receive go toward funding student programs. Suggested donation is $10/per visit per vehicle.

To make a secure online donation through our PayPal account, simply click on the button below. PayPal also gives the option of making recurring, monthly payments online.