The Geauga Park District hosts its annual Chimney Swift Tornado Strikes Again! Viewings on September 11 and September 13

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See something you’ll never forget, then notice it for years to come – guaranteed!

Witness the annual phenomenon of hundreds of Chimney Swifts swirling tornado-like, then plummeting into an old chimney en route to South America – an unforgettable spectacle by all accounts.

Geauga Park District will host its annual Chimney Swift Tornado Strikes Again! viewing experiences on Wednesday, September 11th, at Berkshire High School in Burton, and Friday, September 13th at Punderson State Park’s Manor House parking lot, both from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Why do Chimney Swifts do this, and how can we guarantee it will happen these nights in Chardon and Burton?

To understand the behavior, you have to understand the bird. Swifts are neotropical migrants, meaning they winter in the southern hemisphere and summer in the northern hemisphere. Though they once nested in hollow trees, America’s settlement and urbanization quickly introduced them to more convenient shelter – chimneys, where they can use their glue-like saliva to adhere stick nests to the inner walls.

Swifts’ feet are adapted to cling exclusively to vertical surfaces aided by stiff tail feathers, and they feed exclusively from flying insects they snatch from the air, much like swallows and bats. After nestlings have fledged into flyers by mid-summer, swifts patrol the skies by day and gather at dusk to room communally in uncapped chimneys of older homes, as well as institutional chimneys. Chimney use varies from year to year, but Berkshire High School and Punderson Manor House are consistently used.

During autumn migration from September through early October, local swifts are joined by travelers seeking a “migratory motel” at sundown. All together the birds gradually swell in the sky, swirling in ever-tightening circles and emitting twittering notes until, one by one, they begin to plummet into the chimney. One chimney often holds hundreds of birds for the night.

Previous watches hosted by Geauga Park District have ranged from 200 to more than 900 birds observed joining together to rest up for the next leg of their journey to Peruvian wintering groups.

Registration is not required to attend – just show up! All ages are welcome to stop by and catch the view.

For more on Geauga Park District offerings, please call 440-286-9516 or visit Geauga Park District online via www.geaugaparkdistrict.org, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or YouTube.

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