How many city birds are there?

Latest in a series of posts on the Swifts

“This level of cooperation between developers and conservationists is extremely unusual and highly commendable.”
Peter Saenger, Lehigh Valley Audobon Society

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See the terrific story by Tami Quigley and great pictures: “Answering the SOS That’s Save Our Swifts, Wyandotte St. migratory visitors.” Bethlehem Press, January 20. 2021.


So we look to have a resolution at the February 2 City Council meeting to name the Chimney Swift the official City Bird of Bethlehem.

And so Gadfly was curious about how many other cities have such an “animal.”

The wikipedia compilers show that Bethlehem would join about 3 dozen other cities in the U.S. in naming an official City Bird.

No Swifts on that wikipedia list.

We will be unique.

Gadfly’s survey of that list indicates that such actions have been the result of hometown heroes and grassroots movements — resident participatory activities dear to Gadfly’s heart.

Take Rockford, Illinois, for example.

Just this past July, Rockford adopted the peregrine falcon as a result of the movement initiated by a high schooler.

Gadfly was drawn to the Rockford story by a Bethlehem resonance.

Young Jackie Kuroda “led the efforts to designate the bird because of its ability to adapt and overcome,” which “makes it the perfect bird to represent the comeback that Rockford has been making too.”

Rockford, a comeback town like us.

But the building in which the falcon nest is currently for sale is causing concern: “I don’t know the future of the building or how long we’ll be allowed to have our cameras up there,” Jackie’s mom said. “But I hope whoever the new owner is — that they’ll welcome these birds just as much as the community has.”

Worry over the stability of the nesting site.

Like us too.

But in Bethlehem new owners of the Masonic Temple site John and Lynn Noble, here pictured with Jennie Gilrain, have stepped up to pledge security for the Swifts.

“The western wall has been ripped away and the steel beams have been cut close to the chimney’s edge,” [Gilrain] said. “Demolition has been slowed down significantly in order to preserve the chimney, which drives up the cost of equipment rental and labor.”

According to Noble, the crew was working carefully by hand with chisels, hammers and jackhammers around the eastern edge of the chimney during the first full week of January.

“I think the level of care and skill that John and the demolition crew are employing to save the chimney is quite astounding,” Gilrain said.

“In the end, if the existing chimney cannot be saved, John Noble has agreed to build a duplicate roosting tower on the property, 60 feet to the north of the original,” Gilrain said.

According to LVAS President Peter Saenger, “This level of cooperation between developers and conservationists is extremely unusual and highly commendable.”

Gilrain calls it “Miracle on Wyandotte Street.”

Now it is time for us to step up too.

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