Creative Outdoor Intimate | Portland Wedding Photographer » Photography for Adventurers and Creatives

The Chapman School Swifts / Portland, OR

The Chapman School Swifts captured by travel photographer Briana Morrison+

There’s a local phenomena in Portland often referred to as the Chapman School Swifts.  We heard about it from some locals as we purchased their 1997 Corolla Wagon, nicknamed Swanicorn, around this time last year.  Swifts are a type of small bird who spend nearly their entire lives airborne.  When they want to land they can’t perch like most other birds, instead they hang suspended along vertical walls such as those found in chimneys, caves, and hollow trees.

Every year starting in late August and extending through most of September thousands of Vaux Swifts prepare to roost for the night in one of Portlands favorite local landmarks, Chapman Elementary School’s chimney.  Last Friday Andrew and I invited a few friends to join us for our very first swift watch.  We arrived around 6pm and spent the next two hours watching kids slide down a hill on pieces of cardboard, occasionally catching a kid or two with our backs, and finally, watching the swifts in their swarm-like descent into the chimney.  It was truly a local spectacle and one I hope to enjoy every year.

Next time we visit we will be sure to bring a blanket to sit on, a picnic for feasting, and a few more friends to enjoy it with.  You can find out more about the Chapman School Swifts at the Audubon Society of Portland’s Swift Watch.

Chapman Elementary School in Portland, Oregon photographed by Briana Morrison+

Local kids sliding down a grassy hill on pieces of cardboard while their parents wait for the Swifts to descend into Chapman Elementary School+

Local kids sliding down a grassy hill on pieces of cardboard while their parents wait for the Swifts to descend into Chapman Elementary School+

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Local kids sliding down a grassy hill on pieces of cardboard while their parents wait for the Swifts to descend into Chapman Elementary School+

Local kids sliding down a grassy hill on pieces of cardboard while their parents wait for the Swifts to descend into Chapman Elementary School+

Local kids sliding down a grassy hill on pieces of cardboard while their parents wait for the Swifts to descend into Chapman Elementary School+

Local kids sliding down a grassy hill on pieces of cardboard while their parents wait for the Swifts to descend into Chapman Elementary School+

Local Portlanders wait patiently for the Chapman School Swifts to make their decent. Travel photography by Briana Morrison+

Sunset over Montgomery Park photographed by Briana Morrison+

Swifts fill the sky as they prepare to descend into Chapman Elementary School+

Thousands of Swifts descend into a chimney at dusk. Chapman School Swifts captured by photographer Briana Morrison+

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