11 October 2013

Another Presbyterian Church in Dundee Caps Swift Chimney

On October 10, 2013, another important chimney used by Chimney Swifts was capped by a presbyterian church in the greater Dundee area.

Contractors indicated they would be placing a cap atop the chimney at the Central Presbyterian Church, 55th and Leavenworth Streets. Apparently the heating and cooling system is being modernized.

One contractor did refer to there being a "hundred years of pigeon poop" at the base of the chimney. This was undoubtedly swift droppings, instead, though apparently pigeons have occurred at the site. This was the last comment from one of the three men sitting on the tail-gate of a pickup, or standing around, before they refused to provide any further details, including one basic question as to why the chimney needed to be capped.

Information from church officials could not be obtained as the contractors threatened arrest if the yellow cautionary tape was ignored. Other doorways into the building were locked during the mid-morning visit. They then said was a safety issue.

There was no danger because there was no work underway at the time!

In 2012, the church had its one hundred year anniversary, so swifts have undoubtedly been using this chimney for many decades.

During the two visits on the morning of the tenth — once when the work was initially observed while bicycling westward, and then a couple of hours later for further investigation — there was a swift or two present in the airspace above the church.

Historic records indicate a season's used of this urban habitat:

  • 10/03/2008: 235
  • 10/07/2008: 360
  • 10/12/2008: 120
  • 10/15/2008: 132

These records obviously indicate a historic use of the chimney by the swifts, and indicate dates when similar visitation could have occurred.

There are undoubtedly other dates when Chimney Swift use could have been denoted, but it is impossible to provide complete and thorough coverage when resources and, more importantly, observers are limited.

This chimney roost is now gone, thanks to the changed situation. A phone call to their office on Thursday resulted in a lively discussion associated with their replacement of the building's boiler. This was not the issue, but the point was that the change would result in a lost habitat.

There was apparently a consultation with an engineering company, which obviously were indifferent as to how the change would impact a habitat used by multiple generations of swifts. Although it may be improper to use quotes from someone not realizing that their words might be denoted further, the words conveyed were however pertinent: a "church is not a haven for birds" with another comment from the church person that they "don't have time to talk about birds."

This is a limited perspective, much to the chagrin of bird enthusiasts and to the sad result for bugeaters about the church area in the city of Omaha.

There seems to be a trend for presbyterian churches in Dundee to obliterate roost habitat as they undertake actions which they considers as improvements.

Another recent example of a similar situation was at the Dundee Presbyterian Church, when they undertook similar action, a couple of years ago, which also destroyed a roost well known and appreciated by migratory swifts.

The swift's place is no longer available for their important use. What a sad day for so many bugeaters striving to survive as they make their way southward during this autumn's migration.

Images of workers destroying access to a former swift chimney