Lehigh Valley Audubon Society efforts to save roosting for thousands of Chimney Swifts by Amanda Sebrosky, NEO Chimney Swift Conservation Society
Since the 70’s, the population of Chimney Swifts has dropped by 72%. For Swifts, the habitat destruction was not just loss of forests, but changes to building practices of humans. Learn how the City of Bethlehem, PA is responding to save the species.
Lehigh Valley Audubon Society efforts to save roosting for thousands of Chimney Swifts
By Amanda Sebrosky, NEO Chimney Swift Conservation Society
Bird populations are dropping worldwide for many reasons including poisoning from pesticides, drop in the number of insects as a food source due to pesticides, and habitat destruction. One example of this population drop can be seen with the chimney swifts, which range in all the United States east of the Rocky Mountains. Since the 70’s, the population of Chimney Swifts has dropped by 72%. For Swifts, the habitat destruction was not just loss of forests, but changes to building practices of humans.
Birds Use Chimneys to Replace Loss of Forest Hollow Tree Habitat
Chimney Swifts learned to use chimneys as a substitute for the hollow trees in the dwindling forests. Chimneys are used for nesting, roosts for non-mated swifts in the summer and resting spots for migrating Swifts in the fall. But now, chimneys are being capped or made obsolete with new building practices. To help replenish habitat, humans are stepping in to build chimney swift towers and to preserve chimneys on buildings that would otherwise be demolished.
Photos of the demolition in progress: "John Noble, property owner and developer, has agreed to "Save Our Swifts." His first option is to try to save the chimney while demolishing the building around it, a delicate proposition, as you can imagine. So far the chimney is still intact, as you can see! As he gets closer to it, he has to employ a different technique, actually cutting the steel beams, rather than pulling them down. We are so grateful for the cooperation of this developer! The community is rallying to help with the cost." ~ Peter Saenger, President, Lehigh Vally Audubon Society
Lehigh Valley Audubon Society Brings Expertise to New Project to Conserve Species
Lehigh Valley Audubon Society has had much success building Chimney Swift towers and is now participating in a new, ambitious project that would save a chimney housing thousands of Chimney Swifts during fall migration. The chimney is large (40-foot-high, 5-foot-square) and could be lost because the Masonic Temple of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, is currently under demolition as part of a redevelopment project. The developer and property owner, John Noble, is committed to saving the chimney for the birds and has developed two options for consideration: Reinforce the existing chimney as a stand-alone structure or build a duplicate replacement, freestanding structure on-site. The optimal option will depend on how stable the existing structure is as demolition progresses. The goal is to have the work completed by spring migration in April.
The Local Community Steps Up to Fund Practical Solutions
The local community is stepping up to support the developer's effort to save the chimney using a GoFundMe 'Save our Swifts' effort with the goal of raising $50,000. Any funds procured beyond the actual cost of the structure, will be used to raise awareness, educate the community, document existing roosts, advocate for preservation of chimney habitats, and build new swift towers throughout the city of Bethlehem and the Lehigh Valley. If you would like to help the city of Bethlehem and the Lehigh Valley, please go to this GO FUND ME Donation Page OR make a donation at the button below and give whatever you can!
If you would like to support local Northeastern Ohio Chimney Swift Conservation Society efforts, please go to the store here to donate, or make a generous donation at the Button below. Donations will be designated specifically for NEO Chimney Swift Towers.
The Feathered Flyer blog publishes human interest stories about birding and habitat conservation.
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