Chimney Swift Tower, New to Sneads Ferry, NC

When Jim asked his wife, Virginia, what she wanted for Christmas last year, she said a Chimney Swift Tower. The requested gift was not the type of thing a woman can wear on her finger or dangle from her earlobes and definitely not easily shown to friends at lunch, but she had read in the Jacksonville Daily News that Chimney Swift habitat was declining in our area due to the capping of chimneys, loss of tree cavities and new construction methods. Virginia has always been impressed with the benefits Chimney Swifts, who are insectivores, offer our environment and mulled over the information contained in the Letter to the Editor (Linda Bergman-Althouse) wrote long enough to feel compelled to do something about it. Jim and Virginia share a waterway enjoyed by an array of wildlife. For many years, the nature loving couple has continued to supplement wild birds’ diets and provide condos or gourds for Purple Martins when nesting time rolls around each spring. After going on the Internet and downloading schematics for a tower and an acceptable materials list from http://www.chimneyswifts.org, Jim recruited another builder to help him construct the tower. “It took a few weeks or more to complete the twelve-foot tower, due to waiting out wet weather conditions and allotting time for the concrete to thoroughly set up,” Jim told me when he called. Although I hoped when putting out the word that chimney swifts were in need of alternate habitat to encourage them to return to our area, many months ago, I had no idea anyone had taken the “verbal” yellow flag and thrown it down. Jim invited me to Sneads Ferry to take a look at the tower he built for Virginia (and the Chimney Swifts, of course). My husband and I jumped in the car that day and within twenty five minutes I was absolutely thrilled to be standing next to a swift tower I had only dreamed someone would care enough to ask about, let alone build on their own. Jim sounded confident and proud when he said he “reinforced everything to ensure it will withstand hurricane force winds.” He dug a foundation platform so deep; he needed twenty bags of cement to fill it. Angled, iron girders (wider than the schematic called for) were set in place to form an extremely sturdy base.

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Finished this past week, the twelve-foot tall swift tower, which Chimney Swifts like better than the eight-foot according to something Jim read, stands in waiting along Swan Point off Stump Sound in Sneads Ferry. So “yes, Virginia, we can honestly say there is a Santa Claus, well . . . a Santa’s helper, also known as your husband,” who made this special and most unique Christmas present, a Chimney Swift Tower, happen. Virginia can’t wait for the first migratory Chimney Swift couple to show up from South America’s Amazon Basin and check out their new digs. Although, the tower is large enough to house quite a number of roosting pairs of swifts, Virginia says she will be thrilled to see just one couple this year.

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Most stories have a moral–this one has a few, but the one I like most is:  The little things we do can make a very big and positive difference. When your words mean so much to someone else, they take on power. You may or may not find out what effect or influence they’ve had, but just keep doing your part to make the world a better place and know others, like Jim and Virginia, will too.

Linda Bergman-Althouse

author of, “Save Them All

14 thoughts on “Chimney Swift Tower, New to Sneads Ferry, NC

  1. I love the article and the care it takes to perform such an act of giving. It makes it even better to learn it is right here within our community!

    It would be an honor to get something more about this to publish on our Sneads Ferry News site with your permission.

    Best regards,

    Michael

  2. I am so glad you posted about this chimney swift tower. I am in the process of research on these towers. I live along the Georgia coast and am working with Jekyll Island’s Conservation Manager to build one of these towers. It is great to see one working. How is it doing?
    Lydia

  3. Been in Texas for a while, but after returning to North Carolina last night, I had an email from the Fulchers letting me know that three Chimney Swifts were seen diving into the tower on Tuesday evening (5 Aug 08). I’m so thrilled!!!! Virginia doesn’t know if any nesting has occurred, but at least they’re checking it out!!! Such a wonderful thing!!

  4. Virginia just confirmed that a nest was built in the Fulcher Chimney Swift tower in Sneads Ferry this season. That is fantastic for a first year tower!!!

  5. The best way to get designs and build instructions for a tower is to go to http://www.chimneyswifts.org.
    They have a link for tower construction. You might also want the book on Chimney Swift Towers (New Habitat for America’s Mysterious Birds) by Paul and Georgean Kyle from Texas. It’s excellent and our state wildlife rehab organization (WRNC) gives one of those books to each of three annual Chimney Swift Tower grant recipients. If you are from North Carolina, you may want to check our website http://www.ncwildliferehab.org for the requirements and application to submit for a Chimney Swift Tower grant. Good Luck and thanks for inquiring.

    Recent update on the Sneads Ferry tower: Chimney Swifts have returned from the Amazon Basin in Peru this Spring in greater numbers and believed to have once again moved into the tower. Wonderful!!

  6. That is Awesome, I have always imagined building a chimney just for the sake of swifts, and now I see that I am not the first one to think of that. You built yours out of wood, I would like to do brick some day.

  7. Beautiful story, I live 25 miles southwest of Chicago. For the last 4 years that we lived here we have been hearing birds between may and August in our fireplace driving our dogs nuts. We had always thought it was spirrows. We also always felt bad because we thought that the baby birds were probably dying due to the fact of them not being able to get out. We havent had a fire in our fireplace since we first heard them 4 years ago. Two weeks ago i started seeing a lot of bats in our neighborhood around the street lights eating bugs. This alarmed me to do some research about where bats live and to my surprise through what i read on the internet, I figured thats what they were. Now i started getting scared about how to get rid of them and how difficult it could be to do so. Everything about squeezing through a hole the size of a dime, getting into the house, rabies, etc. Then to my surprise i ran across a web site that said it could be chimney swifts. i read their habits and decided to sit outside at dusk and see if bats were flying out, or the swifts were flying inside the chimney. BINGO, i have swifts, these things are awesome. My chimney is one of only a few in my neighborhood that dont have a cap on it, and it never will have a cap on it or a fire in it ever again!!!!

  8. That’s great, Gary! I don’t know of any first hand in Michigan as I focused in the Southeast, but second hand, I ran into some that have built over the years in Michigan (back as far as 2004) when I was doing my research for North Carolina’s Chimney Swift Tower Grant Program. I can’t tell you where those Michigan cities or towns are though, But I can say the alternative habitat for Chimney Swifts initiative is catching on all over. I get quite a few calls about how to go about starting a program for their community or state such as Georgia, Missouri as of late. Good luck! With all that snow up there, it will be a challenge to build one in the winter, I’m sure BUT go for it. The returning Chimney Swifts will love you for it!! Thanks for writing.
    Linda Bergman-Althouse
    author of, “Save Them All”

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