Bird watchers in Greensboro look to the skies as chimney swifts begin to head south

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GREENSBORO, N.C. — As the sun’s light slowly fades, a group of bird watchers gather to see an annual spectacle. 

Often mistaken for bats, these tiny little birds are chimney swifts. Every year in the fall, they form large groups in preparation for their migration to South America. Each night they swarm local chimneys looking for a place to spend the night. 

“At first they are disorganized, and they fly around not paying attention to the chimney,” said Stella Wear with the Piedmont Bird Club. “It takes them time to get organized, and they’ll give a tornado look.”

As they circle around, their numbers slowly build. 

“The birds actually encourage others to join them,” she said. “They like to get together on cool nights for warmth.”

The scene is repeated around chimneys all across the area till about mid-October. 

To learn more visit the Piedmont Bird Club or Pearson Audubon Society of Greensboro. 

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