Visitors to Valle Crucis Community Park this spring will notice a new structure in the corner of the park behind the Visitors Center. It looks like a wooden chimney on metal legs and is designed to serve as a nest site for some of the park’s chimney swifts.
According to the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology’s All About Birds web guide, a chimney swift will spend most of its time flying. “When it lands, it can’t perch—it clings to vertical walls inside chimneys or in hollow trees or caves.” As suitable habitat becomes harder to find, the species is declining.
The new nest tower at Valle Crucis is one small attempt to help the species. Though Chimney Swifts are social birds – many of us have enjoyed the sight of hundreds, even thousands, of swifts descending into large communal roosts as they migrate south in the fall – this is not the case where nesting is concerned. The new tower will only have one active nest each year. Once it has been discovered and used by the first nesting pair, it will somehow be known as an acceptable nest site in the future.
A grant from Wildlife Rehabilitators of North Carolina covered the bulk of the cost of materials for the tower, and the local High Country Audubon Society chapter provided the remaining funds. HCAS volunteers handled the construction and installation following plans from Paul and Georgean Kyle’s book Chimney Swift Towers: New Habitat for America’s Mysterious Birds. HCAS will be responsible for any necessary maintenance.
For further information about the High Country Audubon Society and its activities, check the chapter’s website https://highcountryaudubon.org.