Spying a Hitchcockian Natural Phenomenon in Portland, Oregon
Thanks to Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds, there’s something instinctually unnerving about thousands of birds roiling through the air above an ancient gothic chimney. It’s also vastly interesting and downright beautiful. Every year in September, the chimney of Portland’s Chapman School plays temporary roost to masses of migrating birds called swifts. It's quite a spectacle, and up to 2,000 Portlanders descend upon the school’s lawn to picnic and bird-watch. Arrive at sunset on a balmy autumn eve, and you’ll glimpse the birds swirling in a giant funnel cloud, feasting on insects and preparing to roost. From time to time, a hungry hawk might fly through and snatch a swift in its talons. The audience usually murmurs in surprise before having another bite of baguette and brie. It’s the cycle of life, right there before you, and unlike an IMAX movie, it’s free of charge!