This year's Swift Night Out event will be a little bit sweeter for fans of the graceful little birds, as the Vaux's swift is now officially recognized as the Monroe city bird.-á

This year's bird watching extravaganza takes place at 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 10, on the grass in front of the Wagner Performing Arts Center. The collaborative event is sponsored by the Pilchuck Audubon Society and supported by Monroe Public Schools, the city of Monroe, swift advocacy group Vaux's Happening, Windermere and the Monroe YMCA. The event is a fundraiser, and a spaghetti dinner prepared by Wild Birds Unlimited owner Leann Jacobson will be available for a donation.

The event celebrates the petite birds as they pause in Monroe during their southerly migration. Among the fastest of all birds, swifts look and act a little like swallows, except their wings and feet are formed differently.

Swifts are not perching birds. They have a three-clawed foot that is able to cling to rough surfaces, such as tree trunks and bricks, but not perch on branches. When not roosting inside a chimney or on the side of a tree, they spend the majority of their time flying around catching insects. Swifts fly an estimated average of 50 miles a day, and eat up to 20,000 bugs during that time.

But they need to rest sometime, which is where old-fashioned brick chimneys come in quite handy.-á

In a phenomenon unique to the city of Monroe, the birds twirl themselves around the Wagner Elementary School chimney each evening just before sunset. The 31-foot brick chimney is an ideal lounging spot for the swifts, allowing them to huddle up for the night safe from predators. They swoop around the chimney in a circle, dropping down tail-first into the flue.

Swift Night Out was founded in 2008 as a way to celebrate the creatures that have worked their way into the hearts of Sky Valley residents.-á

Swift attendance was quite light last year, at just more than 200 birds, but spectators still gasped in delight and cheered each time a bird tucked itself inside the chimney for the night. This year, the chimney appears to be a flutter with the petite avians, which are most closely related to hummingbirds.-á

The Wagner Auditorium is located at 639 W. Main St. in Monroe. For more information about Vaux's swifts and to watch the live swift cam, visit vauxhappening.org.-á