Vaux’s Swifts Watch @ Chapman School in NW Portland | 2023 Labor Day Weekend, Pictures & Video

Portland Swift Watch photo by heathre

The Chapman Swifts Watch starts Labor Day Weekend in Portland. Just before sunset every night in September, thousands of Vaux’s Swifts gather in the city as they prepare to migrate to Central America and Venezuela!


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From website:
Vaux’s Swift Watch

September 2023 | One Hour Before Sunset
More info:

During the month of September, head to Chapman Elementary School in Northwest Portland to see an incredible sight. One hour before sunset, thousands of Vaux’s Swifts gather overhead as they prepare to roost for the night. Migrating swifts often use chimneys as roosts (places to sleep), and they are likely to return to the same roost year after year. One population has been returning to Chapman since the 1980s, and is one of the largest known roosting sites of migrating Vaux’s Swifts.

Swift watching has become a popular activity at Chapman, and on many evenings, more than 2,000 people gather to watch these aerial acrobats. During this laid back time, communities of people may engage with nature in different ways, be it through cheers of excitement, gazing in wonder, and more. On most evenings, Portland Audubon volunteers will be on hand to share information about this remarkable species.

What You Need to Know

Swift Watch occurs at Chapman Elementary School during the month of September. Arrive one hour before sunset any night during the month. Many folks bring blankets or chairs as they sit on the lawn and watch the Swifts overhead.

Read our FAQs for more detailed information.

Getting There

Please note, street parking is difficult to find during Swift Watch.

Public Transport: Trimet buses #77 and #15 stop at NW Vaugh and 26th, a 5 min walk from the Chapman Elementary.

Biking: Ride your bike and find bike racks within the park by the basketball courts.

Three Ways You Can Be a Great Neighbor

Please be a good neighbor to Chapman-area residents:

  • Do not expect to find on-street parking.
  • During the event, leash and pick up after dogs.
  • After the event, pick up your trash and do not loiter on school grounds.
  • It is illegal to consume alcoholic beverages or smoke on public school grounds.

More history here:

Chapman Swifts Pictures

Chapman Swifts silhouette entry
Photo by Dan Viens

Chapman Swifts swirl into chimney
Photo by Dan Viens

chapman swifts
Photo by Nora Zimmerly

Description: On The Wing is a documentary film that tells the story of Portland’s Chapman Swifts. This trailer gives you a peek at the phenomenon and its cult following. More information at



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