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VideosVaux's Swift

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Vaux's Swift
Downtown, Los Angeles, CA
October 1, 2011

Between 6,000 and 7,000 Vaux's Swifts migrating southward to Central America find a chimney in Downtown Los Angeles to roost for the evening. This is a natural occurrence that happens every spring and fall as the Vaux's Swifts travel thousands of miles between their nesting grounds in Alaska and their wintering grounds in the Yucatan of Central America.

This is a small swift, even compared to other Chaetura species, at 10.7 to 11.2 cm long and weighing 18 g. The northern populations are slightly larger at 11.5 cm, probably according to the Bergmann's Rule, and/or migration requirements. It has a cigar-shaped body, crescentic wings and a short bluntly squared-off tail. The head, upperparts and wings are dusky black, and the underparts, rump and tail coverts are greyish brown. The throat is paler grey, becoming whitish in northern birds. The sexes are similar, but juveniles have dusky bases to the throat feathers.

Vaux's Swifts breed in highlands from southern Alaska to central California and from southern Mexico, the northern Yucat‡n Peninsula, to eastern Panama and northern Venezuela. The United States' populations are migratory, wintering from central Mexico south through the Central American breeding range.

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