Are These the World’s Biggest Bird Houses?

Chimney Swifts are small birds, approximating 5.5 inches, but they demand large digs. With funding from TogetherGreen, Amos Butler Audubon Society, and partners like Indy Parks, are providing additional habitat for the species. Our Wings Over Indy project will build seven Chimney Swift towers, five of which will be located on five Indy Parks properties. Other tower locations include Cold Spring Elementary School and a Central Indiana Land Trust property.

As the towers are being built, they inevitably raise questions from passer-bys. The standard reply is that we are building the world’s largest bird house and explain, to the extent the person wants to know, about Chimney Swifts, their declining population, and efforts Audubon is taking to make certain that the species remains a common sighting in Central Indiana.

Building the towers – most will be 12-feet – takes a good deal of effort. The height of the structure requires a concrete slab, steel legs bolted to the concrete, a fair amount of lumber, and finished with vinyl siding. Our first tower, at Eagle Creek Park’s Earth Discovery Center, was quite a learning experience. Now that we have a few towers finished, additional ones are going up fast. All seven towers should be finished by early July. Each will have signage providing information about Chimney Swifts and the tower. Residents of Central Indiana will be encouraged to keep their chimneys uncapped or consider uncapping a masonry chimney that has been capped.

The photo above is of the Chimney Swift tower at Cold Spring Elementary School, which is an environmental magnet school for Indianapolis Public Schools. Imagine the thousands of kids over the years that will learn about Chimney Swifts because of the tower at their school. Swifts were inspecting the tower even as it was being completed. Let’s hope it does not stay vacant for long.

Don Gorney