Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Eagle Scout Project (Chimney Swift Tower)

Chimney Swifts (Chaetura pelagica) are a threatened species of birds that spend summers in the Midwest and winter in South America. They are unable to perch like song birds so they must spiral into their nesting and roosting sites. 

Before European settlement in North America, Chimney Swifts would nest in caves and hollowed out trees. In the last couple of centuries, they have adapted to using house chimneys for nesting. As more energy efficient furnaces become widespread in households, chimneys are being capped and are sometimes are even being eliminated in new construction. Although worldwide population is estimated at 15 million, just a few years ago the population was much higher. In order to keep the Chimney Swift common, various agencies have begun constructing purpose built towers that the swifts can use as nesting and roosting sites. You can find out more by clicking on or Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania

In the spring of 2013, I was approached by a young man who wanted to come up with a project for completion of his Eagle Scout rank. This rank is supposed to include an extensive service project that the scout plans, organizes, leads and manages. I consulted with the City of Ann Arbor's ornithologist and she suggested the Chimney Swift tower. The golf course supplied the construction materials and a site for the tower (to the left of #14 tee). The labor was all organized by the prospective Eagle Scout.

The base of the tower.

The base is about to be set in concrete. 

After the concrete is cured, the rest of the construction is completed.

You can see the completed tower from the clubhouse.  It is the white line in the upper center of the picture.

The completed tower as seen from #14 tee. It is about 14 feet tall and 18 inches on a side.

The sign on the tower explains about chimney swifts and what the tower does.

A closer view of the sign.


Brian Kuehn said...

Walking around Leslie has really become a pretty cool stroll. Bat boxes, newly planted pear trees, re-routed and reformed stream and drainage - now a Chimney Swift tower. I can't wait to take my wife on a hike through Leslie this winter. Thanks!

JC said...

What a creative and positive addition. Thanks to Isaac and Leslie Golf Course!

suzvit said...

My daughter is in the process of building a Chimney Swift tower at a local forest preserve. This plan alters slightly from the Do you have a schematic or instructions used for the foundation? She was hoping to start in the next couple weekends.

Scott Spooner said...

There wasn't a blueprint or schematic. The base was about 30 inches square and excavated 6 inches down. Half inch rebar was secured to the posts with wire to stabilize it in the concrete.

Let me know if you have more questions.