Last Friday, people of all ages and zip codes gathered to witness the roosting of the Vaux's swifts in the chimney of an abandoned building located off Broadway and Fifth Street. The swifts have been stopping in Los Angeles for quite a few years as they migrate down to Guatemala for winter. “Birds Over Broadway” is an event organized by the Los Angeles Audubon Society and headed by Jeff Chapman the Director of the Audubon Center at Debs Park to watch the swifts before they head further south.
As the sun set over the city we reached for our binoculars and cameras and waited for the flock to begin their nightly roost. At 6:30pm the swifts were gathering in full force and the crowd watched as though it was more entertaining than this season of the Jersey Shore only proving that many of us Angelenos are desperate for a
connection with nature.
The antagonists of the show are the ravens, who prey on the unsuspecting swifts as they swirl about in a frantic race for the flue. Each time the ravens made a kill by snatching a swift out of midair the crowd would respond with a unanimous cry of sorrow.
“It's like watching a Colosseum fight!” says Tom Viscount of the Audubon California and that's exactly how it felt, a modern day battle to the death above the ambient urban sounds in the heart of downtown Los Angeles.