Many times we find ourselves invested in our other hobbies....be they actual hobbies or possibly just some 'wife insurance' as sports nuts like to call it. Essentially wife insurance is spending time with the spouse or signifiant other to assure a healthy relationship. That makes sense as it 'all can't be about birding'.....in the real world.
So...the other 'First Friday' Deb and I were in Philadelphia, as she wandered around the art, and I picked up on my other hobby, street photography. First Friday is an excellent time to walk the streets and just photograph away. See photos at http://lmans66.zenfolio.com under Philadelphia and Philadelphia-film.
But, we needed a break between the art and I for one, ran out of film. So what to do? Eat....... Yes, eat man..... .eat. We elected to eat at the Continental on Market and 3rd. The night was warm, no humidity so 'sitting outside' to eat was a no-brainer. The cousine was unique and we just sat and people watched afterwards over our wine.....
Yet birding is like a calling.... an undertow of thought and while the people watching was excellent, I managed to pick up the sounds of birds in flight.Little sounds.
There, in flight and chirping away in flight were small torpedo 'look-a-likes'.... or as Sibley might describe them, more like cigars. You see, the layman upon natural observation of small, darting birds in the air would think that they all belong to the same family, but not so. Swifts which are torpedo or cigar like, belong to one family while Swallows another.
These were Swifts. Very cigarish in appearance in flight. Now, upon my gaze, what immediately came to mind was a Vaux Swift for these are abundant back in my Washington State. Vaux Swifts would arrive in late May and make their home in the downtown area amongst the old brick chimneys. Attempting to see if I was correct, I pulled out my iPhone and looked at the range map on iBird Pro. A good birder is never too astray from their range maps. But egads.....the range for Vaux Swifts is only in the far West coastal areas of Washington, Oregon, Idaho Nevada, California and a slice of Arizona...so ...hmmmmm. Since there are only 4 Swift species here in the states it was a pretty easy nail down.
Vaux Swifts are only found in those states, Black Swifts are a bit more sporadic in range but again limited to the west coast and mainly on the rocky cliffs of California, Oregon and Washington. White-Throated Swifts are also West Coast but not coastal, more inland such as north of Tuscan in the Catalina Mountains. Well, what does that leave? Chimney Swifts it is.
I played the iBird 'sounds' and yepper...clear as day the sound was identical to what was being heard overhead. Nice.....real nice. Chimney Swifts; the acrobats of the sky.
The moral of the whole blog is that, even though one may not be out with the specific intent to 'bird', the end result is just that. And now I have seen all four species of Swifts, with the last one coming over wine, a chair, and leftovers and practicing the art of wife insurance.