Operation Swift Watch at the OPL this Thursday evening!


Quiet observers are invited to witness a very special event this Thursday evening at 6:45pm (weather permitting), when several young Chimney Swifts will be released into the sky above the Village Green behind Orono Public Library.  The birds, orphaned or injured as nestlings, have been in care at Avian Haven Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center and are now ready to join adult birds in preparation for the 10,000-mile migration to South America's Amazon River basin.  Volunteers and staff of Avian Haven will be on hand to provide information and answer questions.


Don't be surprised if this species seems unfamiliar to you.  Many people are unaware of the "flying cigars" in the evening sky.   However, if you have been entertained by the acrobatic swoops and dives and the incessant chatter of small gray birds over summer concerts on the Village Green behind Orono Public Library, you are lucky to have encountered one of North America's most intriguing annual visitors, the Chimney Swift (Chaetura pelagica).  Some of these ecologically important little birds have spent the entire summer here, nesting in our chimneys and devouring thousands of mosquitoes and other flying insect pests every day.  Others are arriving from farther north, looking for an evening's rest in Orono.  At this time of year, the Swifts are swirling together in small groups overhead, gathering at one of the first stops on their long migration.  Each evening, they will share communal resting places in chimneys and steeples of Orono.


Young Chimney Swifts need older ones to guide them to roosts.  When nestlings have been rehabilitated and raised to maturity, they must be released into an active group of adult birds who can help them find their way.  Orono is a great release site, because we have such a vibrant population of Chimney Swifts.  Join the celebration as these young birds join a flock in preparation for their first journey south.



Louise Jolliffe

Youth Services Librarian

Orono Public Library

39 Pine Street

Orono, ME 04473


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