If you are a contractor and wish to bid on the Chimney Swift Tower Project, please use the button below to access the bid documents!
In 2016, PVAS began a campaign to protect Chimney Swift habitat on the Shepherd University campus, when concerned community members learned that one of the West Virginia’s largest Chimney Swift roosting sites, Sara Cree Hall, was set for deconstruction. Upon raising awareness and reaching out to local stakeholders, PVAS has committed to ensuring Chimney Swifts will continue to have roosting habitat on the Shepherd University campus.
PVAS is now working to “RAISE THE ROOST” and build a new roosting structure near the storm water retention area and Dunlop Hall on University Avenue. The area will have abundant food availability and will not be developed in the future.
If you are interested to learn more, get involved and support the “RAISE THE ROOST” project please contact our Land and Conservation Manager, Katelyn “KC” Walters (Katelyn@PotomacAudubon.org).
Chaetura pelagica are a neotropical migratory bird that migrate over 6,000 miles to North America for their breeding season. Their small, slender bodies make them magnificent fliers, and they are also phenomenal
natural pest control agents, consuming more than 3,000 insects per day! Historically, Chimney Swifts nested and roosted in standing dead tree trunks, but with the decreased availability of old-growth habitat, they adapted to the urban environment and used chimneys as nesting and roosting habitat. Unfortunately, as historic buildings are removed and chimneys are capped the swifts’ urban habitat has declined in availability. They have suffered a 40% population decrease since the 1960’s, and are classified as “near threatened” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
PVAS hired Alpha Associates to develop engineering documents for the project. The design, featured below in the lower left photo, includes an access panel for cleaning and two panels for video cameras to be installed. This access will allow us to gather information about the roosting swifts, which will also benefit ongoing research about the Chimney Swift species. We are proud that this will mitigate habitat loss, and contribute to conservation science efforts. The research opportunities from the tower will provide new resources Shepherd University students, local and international scientific inquiry.
The tower design was modeled after a swift roosting tower built by Wake Audubon in North Carolina (lower right photo). Their roost was successful in the first year upon competition and each season the roost grows. We expect that our roost will also have quick re-habituation after the tower is constructed.
The tower will be built near the bio-retention pond on the north side of Shepherd University campus. Site selection was determined was determined with the input of Shepherd University advisors and after a thorough soil and topographic assessments. The State Ornithologist with the WV DNR, Richard Bailey, has looked at the site and has also deemed it an excellent location based on the habitats and needs of the Chimney Swifts. Getting consensus around these details is critical to ensuring the sustainability and longevity of this investment. The partnerships and community support surrounding this project confirms what a remarkable community we have in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia.
Support the Swifts!
PVAS members have monitored Chimney Swifts in our region for decades. We have identified several habitats that Chimney Swifts occupy and are always looking for more. Join us every August and September during the “Swift Night Out” events, where we monitor roosts and count Chimney Swifts! The data collected will contribute to nationwide surveys and databases, for use by researcher and ongoing conservation efforts. Review the “additional information” provided at the bottom of this page to learn more.
Ways you can make a difference:
- Join annual bird counts for “A Swift Night Out”
- Leave chimneys open, use a cap with a 12″ gap to allow swifts’ entry or uncap them
- Build a faux chimney tower
- Raise awareness in your community
- Donate to PVAS and help RAISE THE ROOST!
- More Information: Chimney Swift Conservation Association
- Handout: Informational Handout
- Tutorial: How to build a Chimney Swift tower
- Masonry blueprint: for tower construction
- Article: What’s a Chimney Swift without a Chimney?
- Video: Chimney Swifts in Shepherdstown
- Video: Tower Construction Tutorial
- WHAG media: Birds now have a place to call home
- Charleston Gazette: Migrating birds losing landing spot in Shepherdstown
- The Wildlife Society: Not only Santa needs his chimney
- WEPM Radio: Shepherd holds meeting to discuss demolition of Sara Cree
- Herald Mail Media: Historic Shepherd hall could be demolished-along with bird..
- The Picket: Bird Lovers Seed to Save Chimney Swift on Shepherd’s Campus