20 October 2014

Swift Roost Habitat Lost at Church Chimneys

Two eastern Omaha church chimneys capped during 2014 mean a further decline in roosting habitat available as gathering places for Chimney Swifts. The caps were apparently placed atop the chimneys when a new vent was installed in association with a renovation of the HVAC system.

Both churches are Lutheran congregations.

A major loss of roosting habitat occurred at the Pella Lutheran Church at 303 South 41st Street, in the Blackstone District along Farnam Street. Use by swifts was first determined for this locality in the autumn of 2008, when 155 swifts were counted on the evening of October 3rd as they entered the chimney for the night. On August 18, 2012, additional use was recorded. There have certainly been other dates of occurrence.

The Zion Baptist Church at 23rd and Grant, has a lesser known history of use by swifts. About a dozen swifts were present on September 7, 2005. There may have been more extensive use of this structure, but surveys are not often done in this portion of north-eastern Omaha.

There have been numerous examples in the past few years of churches capping their chimneys, including at the Dundee Presbyterian Church along Underwood Avenue near Happy Hollow Boulevard and the Lifegate Church (formerly Central United Presbyterian Church) at 55th and Leavenworth Street, east of Elmwood Park.