18 May 2009

Birdly Requiem - Swift Building Razed for Urban Redevelopment in Lincoln

View on Sunday evening, May 17, 2009. Chimney Swifts were heard in the skies while this photograph was taken along the traffic corridor. Within days, the place which was so important for the aerialists of the sunlight skies will be obliterated, gone from the urban landscape.

A grand gathering place for swifts is being razed - destroyed - obliterated - and basically removed in east downtown Lincoln. The former Ben's Auto Parts building at 2020 O Street is the notable structure.

Swifts will be dramatically forced to adapt - change - move etc., though it was no choice of theirs. Nor were they given any options and no advocate spoke for them at a public hearing! The people of Lincoln - through their official machinations - unbearably forced the negative change upon the birds.

The chimneys of the historic structure have been an important place for swifts ever since it was built, though this was not really apparent for the structure until 2005, due to a personal interest of a citizen.

This tally indicates the ongoing use of the two building chimneys.

  • 29 May 2004 - 4 swifts; this was the first time that chimney use was documented, and the realization meant an ongoing investigation of this locale and other places in central urban Lincoln which were important to swifts
  • 2 July 2005, 8 swifts
  • 22 July 2005, 2 swifts
  • 1 August 2002, 9
  • 5 August 2005, 10
  • 16 August 2005, 37
  • 18 August 2005, 71 counted during dusk when the swifts dive into a place for the night
  • 21 August 2005, 65
  • 22 August 2005, 50
  • 25 August 2005, 65; during a view from the rooftop
  • 23 April 2007, 2 at the beginning of the season for swifts in Salt Valley
  • 11 September 2007, 89
  • 3 October 2007, 25
  • 4 October 2007, 98; a grand spectacle of the swift maneuverings as they gathered in a sublime congregation cooperating to drop into the night's shelter so important to their survival

The value of the place for Chimney Swifts is readily obvious, based on confirmed records of sightings. Though this period of documentation is slight, the use continues until the building is gone, but there was no one that cared enough to record the events as swifts continued to gather during subsequent years.

Ben's Auto Parts building, June 27, 2005. Note the central chimney, with a second usable chimney on the northwest corner.

Bens Auto Parts building, August 15, 2007.

Developers ignore the many-year history when this place obviously meant so much to the swifts. The ignorance goes back ten years, a couple of decades and beyond into dim city history when these birds found that a human construct became a place of value to their seasonal existence in an urban landscape.

This building is in close association with the Joint Antelope Valley Authority project which has redesigned the Antelope Creek drainage-way through the city. Their legacy upon swifts is readily apparent in the annals of a focused perspective.

It was inevitable that the building would disappear, as it was an empty commercial space, with the property more valuable than the structure, in a view based on economic considerations. There was no option of leasing the place.

The swifts will suffer from the bludgeoning results. Where will the birds find a place that has been so notably suitable for their needs?

The slow but insidious and continual destruction of swift places continues in this neighborhood, as there have been many other chimneys used by breeding or roosting swifts destroyed in association with the socalled urban renovation associated with the JAVA project.

Nothing has been done to address the needs of the avian dwellers in this urban space. Place by place has been obliterated by officials of many ilks. One by one the havens are demolished. Raze and replace almost be an obvious mantra.

It is a continual assault on swift places. These birds forage endless hours to remove bugs from urban skies, yet the human beneficiaries respond by doing their best to remove places which the bugeaters appreciate as an important shelter.

There is a loss for each swift.

Officials should apologize to the swifts for the mindless drive of development which is a direct detriment to your existence. City officials and others in Lincoln and other urban centers obviously do not care in any apparent manner about what they wrought upon your seasonal life. My best wish is that there may be an alternate chimney to now use? Will the destruction of the building destroy a nest, protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, though officials of that regulate this law, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are oblivious, again.

There needs to be be a grand structure built where the bug eaters of the city skies can find shelter, but there is no official budget for such a thing that would be tall, made of brick, and sturdy with walls upon which you would like to cling during the night of repose from April to October, with your needs a primary focus!

As for now though, shame on the inane drive for improvement that decimates subtle appreciations of the historic buildings of east downtown Lincoln. Officials be damned for what you ignore in the mindless drive for change, without any consideration of what you destroy, again and again. Then once more, again against the birdly neighbors.

How would development officials and supporters like to return to their safe place some day and find that it has been obliterated ... completely? This is the Chimney Swifts future this week on O Street.

How dismal is the onslaught which continues to destroy the places for Chimney Swifts in urban Lincoln. The city isn't green in this regard, and has not made any effort to mitigate for the destruction.


Construction activity at the Ben's Auto Parts building. October 6, 2007.

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