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Nyack’s Swallows of Capistrano?

I have lived in Nyack for nearly a decade, and each day I find something new. One recent spring night, my daughter had a birthday party at the YMCA, so, as the sweet spring breeze blew toward the Hudson River, we walked intending to enjoy an evening in “Town.” As we approached our destination, we were greeted by the sound of “bats,” and could see hundreds of small objects diving and chattering together.

We stood and watched as hundreds of creatures circled and swooped, dived and chirped, while pedestrians scurried from the swarm. I conversed with the passers-by to identify these wondrous beings. Was it bird, bat, . . . UFO.

One kind stoop sitter graciously approached, obviously intrigued by our intrigue. He told me that he had lived in Nyack, just down the street, “all his life,” and that he believed the flying objects were “Chimney Sweeps.” Almost on cue, the cloud of small swooping creatures disappeared down the chimney of the YMCA, one streaking creature after the next.

An internet search confirmed our friend’s belief. Referred to as “flying cigars,” the Chimney Swift is rarely seen perched, its high-pitched twittering a familiar sound during summertime as it flies high above, catching small flying insects. Apparently, our Nyack YMCA is home to the only type of “swift” commonly found in eastern North America. They differ from swallows in that they have noticeable tails, do not have gliding wing beats, and never perch on wires.

So, not quite the swallows of Capistrano, but, the swifts of Nyack. Read all about them at http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Chimney_Swift/lifehistory.

Peter Klose

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