Bird #428 — Vaux’s Swift

chaetura (from chaeto, spine or hair, and oura, tail) vauxi (after William Vaux, American mineralogist and archeologist)

Tuesday, May 6, 2008 — 4:01 pm

Mount Hood National Forest, Oregon — Eagle Creek — Wauna Viewpoint Trail

I was on a streak — I had taken identifiable photos of four lifers in a row. The streak ended here, but of the 18 lifers I saw on this trip, I managed to get identifiable photos (notice I didn’t say GOOD photos) of 13 of them and long-distance, unidentifiable photos of one other.

As we walked along the trail above Eagle Creek, a swarm of Violet-green Swallows cruised just above the tree tops. When I reached a gap in the forest, I noticed that at least one of them was an imposter — a Vaux’s Swift. They are a bit smaller and paler than Chimney Swifts, but otherwise look very similar. My primary identification point was location — Chimney Swifts don’t occur on the West Coast.

When we got down to the road, I found the swift again, just to make sure. Later in the week, I saw some by our hotel on Hayden Island and then got great looks at several as they flew past at eye level when I was at the Portland Women’s Forum State Scenic Viewpoint. (More on this oddly-named place in a future post.)

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