For the birds…

A couple of months ago, we met a man named Jim Fossard with a passion for birds–especially a small bird called the Chimney Swift. He explained the incredible journey of Chimney Swifts from the Amazon Jungle to the Canadian woodlands, their decline and habitat loss, and their unusual habit of forming a “bird tornado” before descending into their roost.  And if you have the right habitat, they will come.  The right habitat can be made by creating a chimney swift tower, and Jim graciously offered to donate the materials for two of the structures.  That kicked off an incredible series of events…

Crawford Murphy Tilley Engineers connected with WCO through United Way of the Ozarks Day of Caring.  They graciously agreed to design Chimney Swift Towers.  The Springfield Greene County Parks helped with locating the tower site and with their erection.  The Greater Ozarks Audubon Society and Springfield Plateau Chapter of the Missouri Master Naturalists rallied volunteers, and Jeff Birchler, our Watershed Center Coordinator oversaw the project.  After building more than 20 houses, Jeff knows how to “swing a hammer.”

And today, they went up!  The Chimney swift towers look great and will add a lot to the Watershed Center.  They will provide habitat for the birds (and hopefully bats too), and they also showcase an important design mantra of the Watershed Center: the built environment can work with, and for, the natural environment.  The towers will also provide another unique outreach opportunity.  Like the swallows returning to Capistrano,  the spectacle of the chimney swift migration will likely draw more visitors to the Watershed Center, where they can learn more about our local environment and water resources.  It’s a great project, and not just…for the birds

Mike Kromrey, Executive Director