Photos by Chris Hendrickson
Monroe City Councilmembers Jason Gamble, Jim Kamp, Ed Davis, Kevin Hanford, Kirk Scarboro and Jeff Rasmussen paused for a photo as Mayor Geoffrey Thomas presented the resolution to Audubon Society President Cindy Easterson, Monroe Public Schools Superintendent Fredrika Smith, Frank Wagner Elementary School Principal Vikki Berard and Sultan sculptor Kevin Pettelle.
Photos by Chris Hendrickson Monroe City Councilmembers Jason Gamble, Jim Kamp, Ed Davis, Kevin Hanford, Kirk Scarboro and Jeff Rasmussen paused for a photo as Mayor Geoffrey Thomas presented the resolution to Audubon Society President Cindy Easterson, Monroe Public Schools Superintendent Fredrika Smith, Frank Wagner Elementary School Principal Vikki Berard and Sultan sculptor Kevin Pettelle.
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For years, gentle birds known as Vaux's swifts have charmed Monroe residents during their synchronized swirl above the old Frank Wagner Elementary School chimney. They now have a place of distinction in the city's history, as Monroe Mayor Geoffrey Thomas designated the Vaux's swift as the official Monroe city bird.

The resolution was read in front of Pilchuck Audubon Society President Cindy Easterson, Monroe Public Schools Superintendent Fredrika Smith and Frank Wagner Elementary School Principal Vikki Berard during the Monroe City Council meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 16.

Council overwhelmingly favored the resolution, which passed unanimously. To add to the celebration, Sultan bronze sculptor Kevin Pettelle presented a scaled-down version of the new Wagner Swifts sculpture to be located at Main and Lewis streets in downtown Monroe.

Selected by an Art Selection Committee in May, the sculpture will be installed before the end of the year.

The idea to name the Vaux's swift as the official city bird was presented to the mayor by an individual about two years ago, Thomas said. He favored the idea of celebrating the petite birds that make Monroe their home twice a year, during their spring and fall migrations. Swifts are unique in that they are unable to perch like many birds, so they rely on rough surfaces to get some rest.

Rough surfaces like the inside of old brick chimneys.

"The Vaux's swift uses our local chimney here at Frank Wagner Elementary School as a stopping point, and as you know, in September, we have a large number of people that come out to watch this event,GÇ¥ Thomas said.





 

This year's Swift Night Out event takes place at 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 10, on the grass in front of the Wagner Auditorium. The collaborative event is sponsored by the Pilchuck Audubon Society and supported by Monroe Public Schools, the city of Monroe, 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 will feature in-depth information on the delicate avians, presented by expert swift researcher Larry Schwitters, the founder of Vaux's Happening.

"Larry has opened our eyes to the wonder and magic of these wee birds,GÇ¥ Easterson said. "He has documented the value of the chimney at Wagner Center, formerly Frank Wagner Elementary, and has launched a movement that engages people, businesses and public agencies, all in support of sustaining a healthy roost site.GÇ¥

Easterson commended the community, the school district and the city for helping with those efforts. After safety concerns slated the chimney for demolition in 2007, a significant effort was launched to save it. Vaux's Happening was formed as Schwitters began to study the chimney, to determine if swifts were actually using it and if so, how many. During the course of his research, he found that thousands of swifts called the 4-foot by 4-foot brick chimney home.

Easterson thanked the city for the resolution, calling it "a win for birds.GÇ¥

"Tonight, by adopting the Vaux's swift as your official bird, the city of Monroe has put in place a legacy that will benefit these tiny visitors to your town for years to come,GÇ¥ Easterson said. "The 2016 southbound migration has just started, and just think how much fun we will all have looking skyward and sharing the thought, "You're back little swifts, and your city welcomes you.'GÇ¥

For more information about Vaux's Happening, visit www.vauxhappening.org.