FARMINGTON, Mich. — The Detroit Audubon Society is celebrating thousands of chimney swifts that have made their summer home in a 151-foot smokestack.
The third annual Swift Night Out fundraiser runs from 6 p.m. to sunset Saturday and Sunday at the smokestack in Farmington, northwest of Detroit, according to the Detroit Free Press (http://on.freep.com/2d8OxwN ).
Donations raised will help cover upkeep of the old chimney that’s been designated a sanctuary for the robin-sized birds which spiral down inside just before sunset.
“They do the tornado swirl, in perfect precision, until the last chimney swift is in there,” sanctuary program director Michelle Romans said. “It can take about 2½ hours to get them all back inside.”
“People come with their lawn chairs to sit and watch,” Romans added.
Between September and October, the number of chimney swifts in the smokestack can reach 50,000 or more, the newspaper reported.
“It’s fantastic,” Detroit Audubon Society president James Bull said. “When we went out and actually saw it, it’s just awe-inspiring. You can’t believe the number of birds.”
The birds live throughout the eastern United States and in some parts of Canada in the summer. They migrate to South America for the winter.
“They mate, they eat, they live their whole lives in flight or inside of a chimney,” Romans said.
Inside the chimney, the swifts wait for the right temperature and sunlight before flying out the next day.
The chimney is attached to a former utility building that was built in 1898. Local shops and a Halloween haunted house are now there.
The building’s owner wanted to see the birds’ habitat protected and sought to make the chimney a sanctuary.
Information from: Detroit Free Press, http://www.freep.com