English and Scientific names:

Vaux's Swift (Chaetura vauxi)

Number of individuals: 

at least 8

Locality: LOUISIANA: 

East Baton Rouge

Specific Locality:

Capital Lakes, Baton Rouge

Date(s) when observed:

21 December, 2005

Time(s) of day when observed:  


Reporting observer and address:

Erik I. Johnson

Youngsville, LA

Other observers accompanying reporter who also identified the bird(s):

Jason Zoller

Other observers who independently identified the bird(s)

I believe Justin and Devin Bosler relocated the birds in February 2006 and heard vocalizations, confirming Vaux's Swift.

Light conditions (position of bird in relation to shade and to direction and amount of light):

saw in evening light

Optical equipment: 

Swarovski 10x50 EL binoculars

Distance to bird(s): 

30+ m

Duration of observation:

15 minutes


vegetated urban park

Behavior of bird: 



I had several looks at pale rumps as birds banked, although the evening sun made it difficult to determine the exact color; the pale parts glowed in the evening sun.  This was true for the throats as well.  However, no bird that I could locate had a dark rump or dark throat, like most Chimney Swifts would have, although I concede that CHSW can appear pale throated.  The combination of pale throat with pale rump should eliminate CHSW, however.  The shape of these birds were also distinct from Chimney Swifts: relatively narrow and short-winged and short-tailed.  The flight pattern also appeared more bat-like and "flitting" than Chimney Swifts.  The turns felt more frequent and sharp than Chimney Swifts that I have observed.


none heard

Similar species:

see above

Photographs or tape recordings obtained?

Photographs by EIJ. These three photographs are not likely the same individual, as I was shooting various birds in this flock.  Additional photographs are available upon request.

Previous experience with this species: 

seen in Baton Rouge the previous 2 winters.  Also observed several times in Oregon and Costa Rica.  With that said, Chaetura swifts are very difficult to identify, and I would have a hard time seperating Vaux's from other oddball Chaetura swifts.  Because no Chaetura experts have seperated other Chaetura swifts in Louisiana in winter, this seems like the most likely species.

Identification aids:

at time of observation: none

after observation:  Sibley's Guide to North American Birds, National Geographic Guide 3rd ed.

This description is written from: 

after observation

Are you positive of your identification? If not, explain: 


No, but I am sure these are not Chimney Swifts.  If other Chaetura swifts were to show up in Louisiana, very few people would be able to seperate them from Vaux's and I don't claim to be one of them.  However, the photographs that I took should help confirm whether or not this sighting is actually Vaux's Swift, which is certainly the most likely candidate in Louisiana in winter.


Erik I. Johnson

Date and time: 

29 April, 2006, 1700pm