10 October 2013

Demise of a Big Red Chimney Utilized by Swifts

The clues could not be missed. There was work underway that would permanently alter the scene for a significant chimney repeatedly used by migratory chimney swifts in eastern Omaha. The progress was obvious based upon daily observations, most often in the evening when workers were not present. Once the final change occurred the results became readily apparent as they transitioned along the brick walls of the significant building along Izard Street just east of 43rd Avenue. Spots of differing color indicated what was going to happen.

The chimney was tall and especially a big vivid red in splendid color echoed by the reddish tinge of the little fluffy clouds overhead, one recent evening. But on Wednesday, October 9th, the big red chimney was gone. Its six sides of brick which had been prominent with a consistent red hue was obliterated.

Typical for Omaha, no sooner is a landmark recognized than it gets altered. This particular architectural feature — recently dubbed the big red chimney — has been recognized for years as a place especially appreciated by the bug-eating Chimney Swifts. They know the place well, as regularly in the autumn, more than a hundred roost among its internal confines on many different nights.

The big change was, however, simply one of color. "Big Red" is now covered by gray paint, with the structure still the same. Chimney Swifts (148) using this roost site as duck descended on October 9th, as day declined, were indifferent to the cosmetic change which was nothing different from their birdly perspective.

Thankfully, the roost habitat remains for swift use on more pending days?

The roost on the evening of October 9th, after the swifts had all arrived.