Chalupas and Chimney Swifts 2019

By: Georgean and Paul Kyle, Sanctuary Stewards

We were nervously watching the weather all week right up to the day before Chalupas and Chimney Swifts – intense thunderstorms were forecast.  On Friday, it appeared that the storms were going to go north of Chaetura Canyon, so we emailed our guests that Saturday night was still a “go.”

Saturday morning, the forecast and future radar had changed – putting a heavy storm right over the Canyon at 6:00 PM when our guests would be arriving.  But it was too late to reschedule.  We battened down the hatches: lowered the rain panels, set up tables under the covered portion of the deck and inside the residence, and hoped for the best.  After all, we could still have a nice dinner and watch the swifts on the video feed even if the rains did come.

At 4:00 we had a brief downpour of .18”.  However, by the time everyone began to arrive, the skies had cleared and the hot, humid temperature had moderated.  After the shower, we had also moved all of the dining facilities back out onto the deck and opened the rain panels.  It turned out to be a glorious evening.

More than two dozen participants enjoyed beverages and appetizers on the deck and then wandered the upper trails by the water features, down to the Windows on Nature, to the vegetable garden and back.  The dinner of enchiladas, tamales, guacamole and others delights was served at 7:30 followed by a short presentation about the history of Chaetura Canyon.

The Chimney Swifts made their appearance about 8:30 and put on their typically impressive aerial display. Several of the guests counted the swifts as they entered the roost in the North Tower, and the average count tallied 68 individual swifts.

Once the last swift had entered the roost, the guests were treated to the video “Twig and Timber” – a year in the life of two Chimney Swifts and the youngsters they reared at the Canyon.  This was followed by an encore presentation of Abe Moore’s “Swift Saviors” – a short Texas Parks and Wildlife video about our work with the swifts over the past 30+ years.

Just as the evening was wrapping up, Mother Nature’s light show began with a full moon rising over the Canyon (someone dubbed it the “Swift Moon”) as well as a plethora of fireflies sparkling and dancing in the vegetation below the deck.

Photo courtesy of Dennis Palafox

We want to express our thanks to everyone who participated.   It was a successful fundraiser and thoroughly enjoyable event.