July 28 – August 4, 2021: For many years I wondered where one could possibly go to try to find a Black Swift, an elusive species that is hardly ever seen because it nests inaccessibly at high elevations near waterfalls and spends its days entirely on the wing. My Florida friend Carl Edwards alerted me that indeed there is a nesting site that actually is accessible, namely Box Canyon Falls in the mountain town of Ouray, Colorado, so I became determined to make a pilgrimage to Ouray. COVID made such a trip impossible in 2020, but Nancy and I finally made it there last week as part of a week-long Denver-Denver driving itinerary that took us to Great Sand Dunes NP, Durango and a day trip on the Durango-Silverton narrow gauge railway, Ouray, and finally beautiful Aspen.
After traversing the infamous “Million Dollar Highway,” a stretch of US 550 with a not undaunting section literally carved out of a cliff, we arrived safely in Ouray at 1:30 PM on July 31 and went immediately to Box Canyon Falls which is a left turn just as one enters the south end of town. Late July is a good time to visit because it is nesting season and there will be a good chance of seeing at least a nest or two with an adult swift incubating an egg. We did find two such occupied nests but the canyon walls are steep and the nesting sites in the crevices are in deep shade necessitating a high ISO camera setting (6400) in order to get satisfactory photos. We were lucky that we hadn’t wasted any time getting to the Falls, because the rain started forty-five minutes later just as we were leaving and there would have been no viewing opportunity later in the day.