English and Scientific names:

Vaux’s Swift

Number of individuals: 

six birds

Locality: LOUISIANA: 

Caddo Parish

Specific Locality:

C. Beckham Dickson Park, Shreveport, Over the Red River and an old oxbow at the park_______________________________________________________

Date(s) when observed:

January 2, 2008

Time(s) of day when observed:  


Reporting observer and address:

Matt White

Campbell TX

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

Paul Miliotis

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

I think there was a Shreveport area birder who saw two birds the next day and posted on LA Birds

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

Overhead in all directions with direct sunlight to our backs

Optical equipment: 

Nikon 10X42 Monarch new

Distance to bird(s): 

above tree-tops, ~30 -50 yards high

Duration of observation:

30 minutes


in air over the river and the oxbow at the park

Behavior of bird: 

On the afternoon of January 2, 2008 Paul Miliotis and I drove to Shreveport’s C. Bickham Dickson Park on the Red River to look for the Surf Scoter and the Eared Grebe that had been previously reported there.  We drove up and found the grebe rather easily in the Red River itself, but the scoter was not so readily apparent.  We searched among the ducks and numerous coots without success for about 30 minutes or so.  Finally, unable to find it, we parked the car and walked basically west from the main loop toward the old oxbow lake to get a better look at the ducks swimming behind the trees there.  We had walked about halfway from the road to the water when I spotted a small group of swifts circling over the water in front of us.  I called out to Paul at once that I had some swifts and we both lost no time in getting our binoculars trained on them.   Six small swifts were circling over the water—fairly low, initially about 100-150 feet in the air—probably no more than 200 feet ahead of us.  While we were watching them they came much close to us—often right overhead—flying less than 100 feet in the air.   We had them in constant view for at least thirty minutes as they were flying all around us.   Indeed they were still present when we moved on.


These were small Chaetura swifts with short stubby tails.    The breasts, faces and throats were much paler than I expect to see on a Chimney Swift.  Two or three of these birds were light breasted and light faced, which contrasted markedly with the dark cap, an appearance somewhat like a Cave Swallow.   The breasts and throat of the other birds, which really didn’t differ in shape, gizz or wing beat, were not as white, but were more of a cloudy gray.  All six birds were of the same smaller size and gizz although not all were as pale breasted.  The wing beat was very rapid, with short strokes (which reminded me of a Spotted Sandpiper), or perhaps the rapid manner of a Little Gull compared to a Bonaparte’s Gull.  When the birds banked the paler rumps were visible, a trait that I was surprised to see is even visible in one or two of the photographs that I obtained.


didn’t hear.  Traffic noise and cold north wind apparently precluded hearing anything.

Similar species:

Chimney Swift is darker, flight style is different and would be very unusual in winter in LA whereas this species is known from other areas of the state in winter. 

Photographs or tape recordings obtained?

yes, by Matt White

Previous experience with this species: 

I have seen numerous Vaux’s Swifts in Washington State over the course of two summers doing bird surveys at the Mt St Helens National Volcanic Monument.  These birds were identical to the birds that I have studied there.  

Identification aids:

at time of observation: none

after observation: National Geo, Sibley

This description is written from: 

notes made during the observation

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




Matt White 

Date and time: 

Jan 3, 2008