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posted: 6/7/2014 1:18 PM

Audubon Society dedicates new chimney swift tower

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Submitted by Kane County Audubon Society

Local chimney swifts will soon have a new roost and nesting spot when the Kane County Audubon Society dedicates a new chimney swift tower at Creek Bend Nature Center in the LeRoy Oakes Forest Preserve in St. Charles.

Chimney swifts are the small gray birds you see fluttering like bats high over the Fox River and other local bodies of water as they eat thousands of insects each day. They spend almost their entire lives airborne; they even bathe while in flight, swooping down to smack against the water then shake the water from their feathers as they fly. When they land they must roost vertically, clinging to the insides of chimneys or hollow trees or caves because the configuration of their feet does not allow them to perch on horizontal surfaces.

Aided by funding from the National Audubon Society, Kane County Audubon, represented by members Marion and Rich Miller, has teamed up with Ben Haberthur of the Veterans Conservation Corps of Chicagoland to build, maintain, and monitor four chimney swift towers in Kane County.

The first of these will be dedicated Wednesday, June 11, at 6 p.m. and the public is invited to share in the ceremony.

The project is an important one, as chimney swift numbers are declining in Kane County and across the country as they are impacted by the loss of original habitat, hollow trees, and their secondary choice, chimneys and industrial smokestacks, as many of these have been capped to keep out wildlife or lined with fireproof metal sheeting. In addition, insecticides have reduced the insect populations vital to their diet.

All the towers will be built near environmental education centers to communicate the plight of chimney swifts and convey how the public can help.

The dedication will be at 6 p.m. Wednesday, June 11, at the Creek Bend Nature Center in the LeRoy Oakes Forest Preserve, St. Charles. Everyone is encouraged to come and learn about these fascinating birds and how to help with their conservation.

For more information, call Rich or Marion Miller, project coordinators, at (630) 406-8090 or Bob Andrini, Kane County Audubon Society president, at (630) 584-8386.