Black Swifts over Taboose Creek

Observers: Chris and Rosie Howard
Remote Name:
Date: 07/26/2006
Time: 09:42 AM -0400


Yesterday evening (25 July), 7PM, no wind, dark and stormy in the Sierra. We were not expecting to see a life-bird driving on the alluvial fan 1 mile west of Taboose Creek Campground on the road to the Taboose Pass trailhead. But when we saw several very large, all dark swifts flying overhead we had a hunch. Upon closer inspection, they had fairly long tails which they held open, especially when flying upward to catch an insect. When their tails were closed, we noticed some had slightly notched tails, others did not. (We later learned in Sibley only males have notched tails.) Overall, they weren't 'black'; they were a very dark brown. They appeared block-headed, or large headed. Several times we noticed their legs and feet hanging down slightly from their body. While watching the closer ones in the binos, we would frequently see individuals several times higher. In all we estimate we saw 20 Black Swifts, but there certainly could have been more. What amazing birds... but where did they come from? The closest nesting locations we know of is Rainbow Falls, west of Mammoth. Do they breed closer? Check behind every waterfall!