The Swifts.

Sometimes we go see them. We saw them last year (see pics here) and we will most likely go see them again next year. And probably again the year after that, or until they decide to move their operation up north.

The Swifts are a Portland phenomenon: they come in September to roost in a school chimney; they tornado through the sky at dusk; hundreds of watchers come to witness the avian madness; and by mid-October, they are gone.

If you go to see the Swifts, a good idea is to bring an old piece of cardboard, so that while you wait for the birds to take flight, you can slide down the dirt hill with the rest of the crazies. Its like sledding in snow, except for the snow is just old grass. Another good idea is to bring an adult beverage or some snacks, such as crackers or carrots. Other things to consider bringing are: a chair, blankets, games, hats, binoculars, telescopes, bird food, water and gum.

And while you watch the night sky and wait for the birdies to crescendo, listen closely and you might be able to hear the sound of ten-thousand wings flapping.