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Biology Club Unveils New Chimney Swift Tower

Posted by Cassidy Long '17, Joliet, Illinois on Wednesday, May. 7, 2014


To provide a new home for chimney swifts displaced by the demolition of the old Morris school building, Assistant Professor of Biology Heather Waye and Associate Professor of Biology Margaret Kuchenreuther are working with the University of Minnesota, Morris Biology Club to build a chimney swift tower: a tall, hollow structure that serves as an alternative to the birds’ dwindling habitat.

Last month the club partnered with Facilities Management and the West Central Research and Outreach Center (WCROC) to unveil a new chimney swift tower in the WCROC Children’s Garden. The unveiling included a talk by Kuchenreuther about chimney swifts and their role in the ecosystem, in addition to a discussion of ways to help the chimney swift population flourish.

In addition to providing a home for chimney swifts, the tower teaches children about local birds and shows how species like the chimney swift contribute to the ecosystem. Now that construction is complete, the next goal is to record chimney swift calls to attract birds to the tower.

April Dennison ’16, Rochester, serves as treasurer of Biology Club and hopes that people can learn from the story of the chimney swifts.

“It’s a good opportunity for us to understand how we impact our local environment,” she says.

Colloquially known as “cigars with wings,” chimney swifts get their names by roosting in brick chimneys. Their population has declined 50 percent over the last 40 years as more homeowners have capped or removed their chimneys altogether.

For more information or to visit the chimney swift tower, contact the West Central Research and Outreach Center at wcroc.cfans.umn.edu.