Skip to main content

Swifts Over Houston

Swift Night Out

What is Swift Night Out?

Swift Night Out at Lakeview Elementary
Swift Night Out at Lakeview Elementary

An event to count the amazing swifts that gather in chimneys before beginning their fall migration to South America. Meet fellow bird enthusiasts. Learn about the lifestyle and habits of a bird that spends the whole day flying high in the sky eating mosquitoes and other small flying insects.

Our Swift Night Out events are concluded for the 2023 season. We look forward to co-hosting a new series of events beginning in August 2024.

Houston Swift Night Out

Join us for our family-friendly Swift Night Out events every fall. Check your calendars and see if you can help count the swelling numbers of Chimney Swifts migrating through Houston. We will watch Chimney Swifts swoop and soar over their roosts and count them as they enter their chimneys. We often count over 500 Chimney Swifts in some locations at this time of year! Bring a folding chair if you care to sit down and mosquito repellent! Binoculars are optional (the swifts are visible with the naked eye as they enter the chimney).

Nationwide Swift Night Out

A Swift Night Out is a continent-wide effort to raise awareness about and encourage interest in Chimney Swifts and Vaux's Swifts. The project was originally inspired by John Connors with the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh, North Carolina. In 2001 Paul and Georgean Kyle took John's suggestion and developed the program for the Driftwood Wildlife Association that has become a favorite late summer event for professional and amateur birdwatchers alike. It is held annually in late summer. The procedure is very simple: find a large roost of Chimney Swifts and estimate the numbers that enter it in the evening. For more information, to report sightings, and to see a map of last year's results, visit the Swift Night Out webpage.

Tips on Counting Swifts by Paul and Georgean Kyle: When counting Chimney Swifts at roosts, the numbers can become overwhelming -- especially as the numbers continue to climb as we move toward fall migration over the next few weeks. What we have found to work quite well is to use an athletic lap counter. These are available at most sporting goods stores. You can tally without taking your eyes off of the swifts.

When the numbers of swifts are relatively low, a direct count can be made -- one click per swift. At sites where the numbers exceed several hundred (or the entry rate is high), make one click per 10 swifts and multiply the end number of clicks by 10 for the total. It works really well if several counters can average their counts at the end.