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No one knows exactly where Vaux's (pronounced "vauks") swifts spend the winter, or the details of their migration route. But we do know the birds need chimneys. (AP Photo / The Press Democrat, John Burgess)

The Disappearing Habitats of the Vaux’s Swifts

Chimneys may be obsolete in modern buildings, but they’re crucial habitat for the bird species on the West Coast

“I’ve traveled far to watch birds,” said Christopher Adler, a music professor in San Diego who helped find a roost site in a nearby church chimney. “Thailand, Laos, Cambodia. But seeing those 10,000 Vaux’s in one night,” he said. “I’ve really never seen anything like that. Every direction I looked, they were as far as the eyes could see.”

If Larry Schwitters gets his way, more and more people will have that thrill. “We took him on to help save the chimney,” said Mike Blackbird, president of the Pilchuck Audubon society, at a recent celebration of the Monroe chimney win. “He went on to try to save the species.”

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