Birdhouse in the Sky

Mahtomedi High School’s chimney is home to hundreds of swifts.

Since the advent of modern architecture, the nation’s cityscapes have been losing their chimneys. Sadly, that means chimney swifts—a species of small North American birds—are also decreasing in number. However, Mahtomedi High School’s chimney, home to hundreds of the birds, is staying put. The swifts “fly around outside all day, and at about sunset they start coming in,” says Jeff Ledermann, a member of the Mahtomedi Area Green Initiative (MAGI) and an angling recruitment retention and aquatic education supervisor at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. A couple of years ago, MAGI hosted a Swift Sit event at the high school to raise awareness about the birds; more than 100 community members came to learn about the swifts and witness them swoop in at sunset. Ledermann mentions that if people want to help, they can construct a makeshift chimney for the birds.

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