25 November 2014

Future Unknown for Preeminent Omaha Chimney

A realty sign stating the availability for purchase of an midtown property portends an uncertain future for a preeminent Chimney Swift chimney within interurban Omaha.

The sign is placed on the Cuming Street side of the CenturyLink maintenance staff facility, located between there and northward to Izard Street, along 43rd Avenue.

Signage is only indicative of a change of ownership, but any change in the situations associated with the place can have massive ramifications for current uses. Previous values are often unknown by new owners, as they glibly buy a place and make significant renovations amidst their ignorance bliss for improvements to make them money. It might include demolition. It might include a change in the duct works. And it might, most sadly include something that will result in the demise of the chimney as an autumnal roost for Chimney Swifts.

The building was constructed in 1921, and so has been available for swifts to use for decades.

The key feature is the chimney of the structure. Numerous evenings have been spent denoting the number of Chimney Swifts which roost here in the autumn. This place has had more Chimney Swifts roost within the chimney on one evening than any other place at Omaha, based upon hundreds of counts. The peak count known occurred here, with more than 1500 present one evening during the 2014 autumn.

Certainly ... this feature ... this unique aspect and facet of Omaha's bird community, has only received any consideration from one swift watcher's perspective and continual consideration in recent years.

The building's owners have not discerned or learned any particulars associated with the chimney, from what is apparent and not presented anywhere on the company website. The same company has the name rights for the CenturyLink Center Omaha, and any Omaha birder recognizes that place as the most hazardous structure for migratory birds in Omaha.

The most obvious situation is that of ignorance.

What a mistake, as there are so many details to present that convey the multiple thousands of Chimney Swifts which have appreciated a night's haven within this distinctive brick chimney. To lose this place within the city-scape would be a blow to generations of swifts. Destruction of the sizable brick structure would lessen the ability of these birds to find a safe haven during autumn along the Missouri River migration route.

Consider these points, if you might...

It would continue to convey an indifference of Omaha developers and officials about the value of wild birds in the city environs. It would represent a situation where known bird facts are being ignored by city, county and state officials. It would indicate the complete lack of knowledge or support by local conservation groups. It would blithely convey that the annual gathering of swifts may no longer be appreciated by neighborhood residents.

And most importantly, it would not be a place where Chimney Swifts gather as they have for so many of their generations. The adults and young of the year gather and learn. They convey safe places where there might be a haven for some nights. The birds share their knowledge and learn.

It is simply something that would be so wrong in regards to something so important.

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