Seasonal Special Happenings

Bird Tornadoes

When: Wed., Sept. 21 2011

Nature is funny. Tonight you can catch one of its craziest acts as gazillions of chimney swifts plummet down a Burton chimney as if on cue. Why do they do it? And how can the folks at the Geauga Park District be sure it's going to happen? According to senior naturalist Dan Best, it's all in the programming. At sundown this time of year, it's predictable that local birds will be joined by "travelers" seeking a migratory hotel for the night — generally an uncapped chimney of an older home or institution. The birds gradually swell in the sky, swirling in ever-tightening circles until, one by one, they begin to drop swiftly into the chimney. "They make several close passes before actually entering," Best says, "either waiting their turn based on some unknown fact of avian etiquette or just taking a while to decide when to enter." Birdwatchers are invited to observe the spectacle tonight at 7:30. Just gather at the gazebo on the Burton Town Square, where park naturalists will emcee the performance. It's free, suitable for all ages, and no reservations are required. — Cicora At the intersection of State Routes 87 and 168, 440-286-9516,

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