PORTLAND -- Recent extreme weather in the Portland Metro area has killed many of the birds known for their annual spin around the chimney at Chapman Elementary School, according to wildlife experts.
Some of the Vaux's Swifts have been found dead in and around their nests near the school. Necropsies found that most had starved to death.
“With the storms that we've had and the cold wind, it's bringing the insects down so they have to eat on the fly,” said veterinarian Deb Sheaffer, with the Audubon Society of Portland. “So these birds, the younger weaker ones, aren't getting enough nutrition. Add that to the cold and they're just not making it.”
Veterinarians said the four days of steady rain and wind came at he worst time for small birds in the midst of feeding in preparation for winter migration to Central and South America.
Since the late 1980's the swifts have stopped in Portland, particularly at Chapman School, during their migration home. Many Portlanders gather outside the school to watch as the small birds swirl around the famous Chapman chimney.
Anyone who finds sick or injured birds was urged not to touch them. Sheaffer said they should instead report them to the Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Thousands of swallows have also died during the intense rain and wind. The Department of Fish and Wildlife said there were reported cases ranging from the Port of Saint Helens on the Columbia River to Junction City north of Eugene.