What the Swifts have to teach us

Latest in a series of posts on the Swifts

“Swifts have, of late, become my fable of community, teaching us about how to make right decisions in the face of oncoming bad weather.”
Helen Macdonald

You have been following Gadfly’s support of our Save Our Swifts campaign spearheaded by Jennie Gilrain and with the blessing of Masonic Temple site developer John Noble. You may have even contributed to the campaign. 91 people have so far, and there’s room for plenty more. (hint, hint)

There’s word on the street that there’s a move afoot to name the Swifts the official bird of the City of Bethlehem.

There’s further whispers of a resolution at the next City Council meeting.

It behooves us to get to know the Swifts.

We may soon be seeing images of them everywhere from on police cars to our water bills.

I can imagine Swifts illuminated on the side of the Hotel Bethlehem at migration time.

Now Gadfly already told you that you could know Swifts by reading scientist/naturalist JJ Audobon, he of considerable fame.

What Gadfly didn’t tell you, however, is that ol’ Audobon is the typical cold, detached scientist.

While not exactly Dr. Frankenstein, he killed and stuffed his birds.

Gadfly couldn’t bear to tell you that before.

On a midnight excursion to the Louisville Sycamore Swift Hotel, JJ and his Igor “caught and killed with as much care as possible more than a hundred [Swifts], stowing them away in [their] pockets and bosoms” for further examination.

Gadfly appreciates the “as much care as possible” gesture, but we’re not talking about love here.

We want to love our Swifts.

With a tip o’ the hat to Jennie, Gadfly would like to recommend “ornitho-poet” Helen Macdonald’s New York Times Magazine essay “The Mysterious Life of Birds Who Never Come Down.” 

Here we will find love.

Here we will find respect.

Here we will find awe.

Gadfly gives you a taste:

The bird was suffused with a kind of seriousness very akin to holiness. . . . Swifts are magical in the manner of all things that exist just a little beyond understanding. . . .  they are creatures of the upper air, and of their nature unintelligible, which makes them more akin to angels. . . . If the swifts were flying low over rooftops, I’d see one open its mouth, and that was truly uncanny, because the gape was huge, turning the bird into something uncomfortably like a miniature basking shark. . . . They still seem to me the closest things to aliens on Earth. I’ve seen them up close now, held a live grounded adult in my hands before letting it fall back into the sky. You know those deep-sea fish dragged by nets from fathoms of blackness, how obvious it is that they aren’t supposed to exist where we are? The adult swift was like that in reverse. Its frame was tough and spare, and its feathers were bleached by the sun. Its eyes seemed unable to focus on me, as if it were an entity from an alternate universe whose senses couldn’t quite map onto our phenomenal world. . . . They mate on the wing. And while young martins and swallows return to their nests after their first flights, young swifts do not. As soon as they tip themselves free of the nest hole, they start flying, and they will not stop flying for two or three years, bathing in rain, feeding on airborne insects, winnowing fast and low to scoop fat mouthfuls of water from lakes and rivers. . . . Common swifts spend only a few months on their breeding grounds, another few months in winter over the forests and fields of sub-Saharan Africa, and the rest of the time they’re moving, making a mockery of borders. 

Gadfly usually gives you selections and then a link to full articles or news stories. A bow to your busy lives.

But he would really like you to read this whole article.

It’s kinda long for sure.

But it’s exquisitely written and should not be excerpted.

Look for the phenomenon of “vesper flights.”

See what the Swifts have to teach us.

And be ready to tell me what you think.

————

Save Our Swifts

Audobon’s obsession with Swifts

Latest in a series of posts on the Swifts

The Swifts are coming in April!
Won’t you join with us and contribute?
Click here for the GoFundMe page.

———–

“When about to descend into a hollow tree or a chimney, its flight, always rapid, is suddenly interrupted as if by magic, for down it goes in an instant, whirling in a peculiar manner, and whirring with its wings, so as to produce a sound in the chimney like the rumbling of very distant thunder.”
John James Audobon, c. 1830s

John James Audobon had an obsession about Swifts.

In the delightful chapter on the “American Swift” in his classic The Birds of America, Audobon takes us back to the Swift’s pre-chimney days in the “ancient tenements” in the almost illimitable forests of America, especially in the “Sycamores of gigantic growth. . . . those patriarchs of the forest rendered habitable by decay.”

Audobon is captivated by the Swifts abiding in a two feet in diameter hollowed branch forty feet up on a huge Louisville sycamore sixty or seventy feet high and seven or eight feet in diameter at the base.

Audobon not only watches the Swifts, he meticulously counts them.

He not only watches the Swifts, but, ear against tree trunk, he listens to them.

He not only watches the Swifts from a distance, but he scrambles forty feet up the tree to view then, voyeur-like, through a window he bores.

He not only watches the Swifts from the outside, but, if Gadfly reads him right, he goes inside the hollow tree.

He not only watches the Swifts when they are awake, he anticipates the dawn to experience their dramatic awakening:

Next morning I rose early enough to reach the place long before the least appearance of daylight, and placed my head against the tree. All was silent within. I remained in that posture probably twenty minutes, when suddenly I thought the great tree was giving way, and coming down upon me. Instinctively I sprung from it, but when I looked up to it again, what was my astonishment to see it standing as firm as ever. The Swallows were now pouring out in a black continued stream. I ran back to my post, and listened in amazement to the noise within, which I could compare to nothing else than the sound of a large wheel revolving under a powerful stream. It was yet dusky, so that I could hardly see the hour on my watch, but I estimated the time which they took in getting out at more than thirty minutes. After their departure, no noise was heard within, and they dispersed in every direction with the quickness of thought.

Yes, John James Audobon had an obsession about Swifts.

But he has nothing on Jennie Gilrain.

Any day now Gadfly expects to find Jennie rappeling up (hmm, can you rappel “up”?) the Masonic Temple chimney.

He has Bethlehem native Jim Friedman, NBC10 photo-journalist, on speed dial.

So, yes, Jennie Gilrain also has an obsession about Swifts. That’s a good thing. Without it, we wouldn’t have a campaign to save them.

Gadfly invites you to take a few minutes to read Audobon’s short charming pioneer study of the Swifts.

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Gadfly is distressed to receive anxious notes from eager potential contributors to the Save Our Swifts campaign who can’t locate the GoFundMe page. O my. Here it is! Right here .

Surgical demolition required!

Latest in a series of posts on the Swifts

The Swifts are coming in April!
Won’t you join with us and contribute?
Click here for the GoFundMe page.

———-

photo by Jennie Gilrain

One of the many fascinations of the “Saving Our Swifts” project has to do with the demolition of the Masonic Temple.

No slam-bang, no, sir.

The delicate touch of a surgeon is needed to leave Hotel Chimney Swift intact.

The migratory Swifts are creatures of habit. They’ve been visiting the Masonic chimney for years. Like the Gadflys to Ocean City.

Developer Noble is trying not to disturb their routine. (This guy is something else, isn’t he?)

Take a good look at the territory.

Whattaya think?

What odds do you give for a successful surgery?

Well, not to worry too much.

If the chimney can’t be saved, Developer Noble will build a new one a short distance away (yes, this guy is something else, isn’t he?), and the smart money says the Swifts will find the new digs.

This photo was taken a week ago. The surgery might be done. Gadfly is not mobile. Can anybody put eyes on the scene and report back?

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In case you are disoriented, you can click here for the GoFundMe page.

Developer John Noble commits to preserving our spectacular aerial acrobats

Latest in a series of posts on the Swifts

The initial campaign surge has slowed!
Won’t you join with us and contribute?
Click here for the GoFundMe page.

———–

selections from Christina Tatu, “For the birds, a Bethlehem developer takes the unusual step to preserve a chimney during demolition.” Morning Call, January 7. 2021.

When Jennie Gilrain saw the massive flock of birds, spinning like a dark tornado over her South Side neighborhood, she made it her mission to track them.

A member of the Lehigh Valley Audubon Society, Gilrain and her husband, Mark McKenna, found the birds at the former Bethlehem Masonic Lodge on Wyandotte Street, where she observed them coming and going from the building’s 95-year-old chimney like plumes of swirling smoke.

That was two years ago, and it was the first time Gilrain had seen chimney swifts, a small gray bird named for its favorite urban roost: tall hollow structures like chimneys and smokestacks.

“They are like aerial acrobats. They court in the air and the male will fly in tandem with the female. They swoop together, and when they go into the chimney, it’s the most spectacular sight,” Gilrain said.

The birds have plenty of options in Bethlehem, once an industrial hub with older buildings and former factories. But Gilrain knew this particular building was slated for demolition. When chain-link construction fences went up around the Masonic Lodge and neighboring Wilbur Mansion last month, she asked developer John Noble to reconsider his plans.

“He called me and I just told him about the birds. I was a little scared because I had my own prejudices about developers. I thought he might try to get rid of the birds,” Gilrain said.

Instead, Noble wanted to see the birds’ habitat preserved.

In the past week, Noble and his team have slowed their demolition, taking care to keep the 45-foot-tall chimney intact even as they remove the building it’s attached to.

“More than likely if we were to demo it at a normal pace, the chimney would already be down,” Noble said. “The guys doing the demo are really talented, and it’s made life more interesting for them. They don’t normally tear down a building and leave a staircase or chimney.”

Noble said he was compelled to help after learning about the birds and seeing a video of their aerial acrobatics. Like Gilrain and McKenna, what he saw inspired him to act.

“I’ve got to do something to make sure these birds are impacted in the least amount possible,” he said.

The chimney swifts spend their winters in Brazil, but in April they return to North America to lay eggs. Gilrain would expect no more than five pairs to nest in the chimney this spring since they are territorial during that time.

It’s from August to October, when the birds are migrating back to South America, that they put on a spectacular aerial show, with huge flocks stopping at known roosts along the way. Gilrain counted 2,200 birds coming from the Masonic Lodge’s chimney last year.

The demolition of the building is expected to take another five to six weeks. If for some reason the chimney can’t be saved, Noble plans to construct another one, about 60 feet from the original.

Noble says his redevelopment of the 4-acre property will transform the city’s gateway at the Hill-to-Hill Bridge, with an upscale hotel, apartment complex and new restaurant.

His plans involve tearing down the Masonic Lodge to build an addition to the former Wilbur Mansion at 623 Cherokee St., expanding it to house nine hotel rooms, a 120-seat conference center and 90-seat restaurant and bar. Noble is also planning 50 one- and two-bedroom apartments with a lobby and lounge, exercise room, mail room, storage units and rooftop terrace with fire pits.

It’s not yet clear how much it will cost to preserve the lodge’s chimney.

The Lehigh Valley Audubon Society started a GoFundMe page to raise $50,000 for the preservation. The group hopes some of the money from the “Save Our Swifts” campaign can go toward educating the public about the birds.

“Potentially tens and thousands of birds use this chimney as a secure roosting site at night and without it, they end up on the sides of buildings and trees in the area. And if you have a cold raining night, they can succumb,” said Peter Saenger, Lehigh Valley Audubon Society president.

It’s more critical than ever that the public understands the birds’ importance and their impact on the environment, said Saenger, a biology professor at the Acopian Center for Ornithology at Muhlenberg College.

Some of the factors contributing to their demise include habitat loss, domestic cats and window collisions as more buildings go up, Saenger said. People should be concerned because birds help make our environment more comfortable by removing thousands of pests every day.

A single swift can eat up to 2,000 insects a day, he said.

It’s unclear how many swifts call the Lehigh Valley home because they roost in hard-to-access areas, but it’s safe to say tens of thousands make their way through the area during their fall migration, said Scott Burnet, a member of the Lehigh Valley Audubon Society.

As more buildings are torn down and chimneys capped, Burnet has taken to making “towers” for the birds. He’s built 19 throughout the region, including one in his Allentown yard.

He and other members of the Audubon Society hope to raise enough money for an official count of the population and educational efforts. Gilrain has applied for a grant from the Lehigh Valley Engaged Humanities Consortium to organize public forums with the Audubon Society and Bethlehem Public Library.

“It’s so fascinating to me these birds have adapted to an urban environment. Originally they rooted in old-growth forests and hollowed out trees,” Gilrain said. “Now that the old-growth forests are almost completely gone, they have adapted. It’s almost like the swifts have grown up with our city.”

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Click here for the GoFundMe page

Saving the swifts: “The miracle on Wyandotte Street”

Latest in a series of posts on the Swifts

The initial campaign surge has slowed!
Won’t you join with us and contribute?
Click here for the GoFundMe page.

———-

Jennie Gilrain, who spearheads the Save Our Swifts campaign, made this impressive presentation to City Council last night (4 mins.):

First:

I want to share an uplifting story in the midst of difficult times! A group of citizens from all walks of life is joining forces to save tens of thousands of Chimney Swifts, a bird in sharp decline, by saving their Urban Habitat, the Masonic Temple chimney at 202 Wyandotte Street in South Bethlehem. Developer and property owner, John Noble, has agreed to save the chimney, while demolishing the building around it, in order to save the birds. I visited the demolition site this afternoon to see the chimney still standing. The Western wall has been ripped away and the steel beams have been cut flush to the chimney’s edge. So far, so good. However, in the end, if the existing chimney cannot be saved, Noble has agreed to build a duplicate roosting tower on the property, 60 feet to the North of the original.

The Lehigh Valley Audubon Society is raising money to support this effort through a Save Our Swifts GoFundMe Charity. According to Peter Saenger, local Audubon President, this level of cooperation between developers and conservationists is extremely unusual and highly commendable. I call it, “Miracle on Wyandotte Street.”

Second:

The Lehigh Valley Audubon Society and Bethlehem Area Public Library have applied for a Lehigh Valley Engaged Humanities Consortium grant to support a series of Public Forums to facilitate discussion about the relationship between development and conservation. I invite members of Bethlehem City Government–the Department of Community and Economic Development and the Environmental Action Committee to join the panels, and I invite the public to participate in the forums. More on this when we find out if we got the grant.

Finally:

In light of the tremendous community effort to Save Our Swifts, I would like to make a formal request to you, the Members of Council and to you, Mayor Donchez:

Just as many cities around the world and throughout the United States have named particular bird species as their own; and just as so many years ago the State of Pennsylvania named the Ruffed Grouse the Bird of Pennsylvania, I propose we name the Chimney Swift, “the Bird of Bethlehem.”

The chimney swift is not only a beautiful aerial acrobat, but a welcome insectivore, consuming twice its body weight in bugs each day.

Thank you for hearing me and for considering embracing this bird as Bethlehem’s own.

I look forward to your reply.

Sincerely,

Jennie Gilrain

“Let us be free, be air!” The poetic origin of Swifts

Latest in a series of posts on the Swifts

“How could we throw them away”
Matilda Snyder

The campaign to save our Bethlehem Swifts has begun.
Won’t you join with us and contribute?
Click here for the GoFundMe page.

———-

Swifts

Spring comes little, a little. All April it rains.
The new leaves stick in their fists; new ferns still fiddleheads.
But one day the swifts are back. Face to the sun like a child
You shout, ‘The swifts are back!’

Sure enough, bolt nocks bow to carry one sky-scyther
Two hundred miles an hour across fullblown windfields.
Swereee swereee. Another. And another.
It’s the cut air falling in shrieks on our chimneys and roofs.

The next day, a fleet of high crosses cruises in ether.
These are the air pilgrims, pilots of air rivers.
But a shift of wing, and they’re earth-skimmers, daggers
Skilful in guiding the throw of themselves away from themselves.

Quick flutter, a scimitar upsweep, out of danger of touch, for
Earth is forbidden to them, water’s forbidden to them,
All air and fire, little owlish ascetics, they outfly storms,
They rush to the pillars of altitude, the thermal fountains.

Here is a legend of swifts, a parable —
When the Great Raven bent over earth to create the birds,
The swifts were ungrateful. They were small muddy things
Like shoes, with long legs and short wings,

So they took themselves off to the mountains to sulk.
And they stayed there. ‘Well,’ said the Raven, after years of this,
I will give you the sky. You can have the whole sky
On condition that you give up rest.’

‘Yes, yes,’ screamed the swifts, ‘We abhor rest.
We detest the filth of growth, the sweat of sleep,
Soft nests in the wet fields, slimehold of worms.
Let us be free, be air!’

So the Raven took their legs and bound them into their bodies.
He bent their wings like boomerangs, honed them like knives.
He streamlined their feathers and stripped them of velvet.
Then he released them, Never to Return

Inscribed on their feet and wings. And so
We have swifts, though in reality, not parables but
Bolts in the world’s need: swift
Swifts, not in punishment, not in ecstasy, simply

Sleepers over oceans in the mill of the world’s breathing.
The grace to say they live in another firmament.
A way to say the miracle will not occur,
And watch the miracle.

Anne Stevenson
Poet Laureate for the Swifts

Listen to Jennie Gilrain
introduce
commentary by Matilda Snyder.

———–

Save our Bethlehem Swifts on Gadfly:

ref: Bethlehem’s dolphins of the sky
ref: Gilrain gets scared
ref: The Noble family: “We will do everything we can to make sure that these birds are protected”
ref: Saving the Bethlehem Swifts: this is a worthy cause”
ref: Gilrain on the nest . . . hatching a plan
ref: When renovation turns to conservation
ref: S.O.S. GoFundMe page now available

Featured

Save Our Swifts GoFundMe page now available!

Latest in a series of posts on the Swifts

Click here for video and to donate

Your donation is tax deductible

Click here for video and to donate

Save our Bethlehem Swifts posts on Gadfly:

ref: Bethlehem’s dolphins of the sky
ref: Gilrain gets scared
ref: The Noble family: “We will do everything we can to make sure that these birds are protected”
ref: Saving the Bethlehem Swifts: this is a worthy cause”
ref: Gilrain on the nest . . . hatching a plan
ref: When renovation turns to conservation
ref: S.O.S GoFundMe page now available
ref: “Let us be free, be air!” The poetic origin of Swifts”
ref: “Saving the swifts: “The Miracle on Wyandotte St.”
ref: Developer John Noble commits to preserving our spectacular aerial acrobats
ref: Surgical demolition needed!
ref: Audobon’s obsession with Swifts
ref: What the Swifts Have to Teach Us

Save Our Swifts GoFundMe page now available!

Latest in a series of posts on the Swifts

Click here for video and to donate

Your donation is tax deductible

Click here for video and to donate

Save our Bethlehem Swifts on Gadfly:

ref: Bethlehem’s dolphins of the sky
ref: Gilrain gets scared
ref: The Noble family: “We will do everything we can to make sure that these birds are protected”
ref: Saving the Bethlehem Swifts: this is a worthy cause”
ref: Gilrain on the nest . . . hatching a plan
ref: When renovation turns to conservation

When renovation turns to conservation, a building plan takes flight

Latest in a series of posts on the Swifts

Save Our Swifts GoFundMe page

“Something cool’s going to happen here.”
John Noble

“These birds are amazing.”
Jennie Gilrain

“What Mr. Noble is doing is so incredibly unusual and
incredibly good for the environment.”
Peter Saenger

“When renovation turns to conservation. A building plan that’s taking flight.”
Bo Koltnow

The Masonic Temple is coming down.

But plans to save the Swifts are rising.

The cause got a big boost last night with coverage by local and Philadelphia news media.

Take a look. Treat yourself.

Jim Friedman,  “Thousands of Chimney Swifts Alter Plans of Lehigh Valley Development Project.” NBC10 Philadelphia, December 29, 2020. (2 mins.)

Bo Koltnow. “Local developer says construction project delays worth the cost to save special type of bird.”  WFMZ Channel 69, December 29, 2020. (2 mins.)

Meet the principals again:

John Noble, developer, beaming like St Francis of Assisi

Jennie Gilrain, teacher by day, theatrical director by night,
already choreographing a Swift production

There’s a gofundme in our future, my followers!

to be continued . . .

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Save our Bethlehem Swifts:

ref: Bethlehem’s dolphins of the sky
ref: Gilrain gets scared
ref: The Noble family: “We will do everything we can to make sure that these birds are protected”
ref: Saving the Bethlehem Swifts: this is a worthy cause”
ref: Gilrain on the nest . . . hatching a plan

Gilrain on the nest . . . hatching a plan

Latest in a series of posts on the Swifts

Save Our Swifts GoFundMe page

This is Portland not Bethlehem. This is the Chapman Chimney Project not a Masonic Temple one. But you get the idea.

Listen to Jennie Gilrain float her multi-layered vision regarding the Swifts (2 mins.).

Gadfly finds it hard to curb his enthusiasm.

How about you?

“One thought I had . . . and this is particularly for the ears of the City . . . but we’re all citizens . . . all of us . . . I think this particular chimney . . . is extremely important . . . and has a place in my heart in particular because it’s two blocks away from me and I’ve actually seen the birds go in it . . . But I feel . . . well I not only feel, but I think . . . that this is an opportunity . . . that John [Noble] and his family and all of us . . . can set a precedent for a city . . . cooperating together . . . a developer . . . environmentalists . . . ecologists . . . civic-minded people . . . cooperating to save a threatened or vulnerable species . . . that hasn’t adapted to an urban environment . . . so even beyond saving the species we can model embracing the wild in an urban environment . . . and . . . this is for the ears of city government . . . I don’t know if there’s such a thing as . . . a city adopting a bird . . . You know, I know they have state birds . . . but do they have city birds . . . could we claim that the Swift is Bethlehem’s bird . . . and then really care for that bird . . . and enjoy it . . . and make it an attraction . . . and make it a tourist attraction . . . just like the Bethlehem Star [delightful Jennie-giggle] . . . So I really feel that this particular chimney is important . . . crucial . . . but it could be the beginning of a citywide . . . and then a countrywide . . . a national, even . . . precedent . . . example.”

to be continued . . .

————

Save the Bethlehem Swifts:

ref: Bethlehem’s dolphins of the sky
ref: Gilrain gets scared
ref: The Noble family: “We will do everything we can to make sure that these birds are protected”
ref: Saving the Bethlehem Swifts: this is a worthy cause”

Saving the Bethlehem Swifts: “This is a worthy cause”

Latest in a series of posts on the Swifts

Save Our Swifts GoFundMe page

Peter Saenger, President, Lehigh Valley Audubon Society (2 mins.)

“Like many of our North American bird species, they’re under pressure . . . They’re in severe decline . . . Originally, they nested in hollow trees . . . and then we cut the forests down . . . and they adapted to nesting in chimneys . . . and now we’re capping them . . . and modern construction doesn’t have chimneys . . . So they’re habitat is going away . . . So every single spot is critical for them . . . especially migratory spots . . . for populations that still have nesting sites up in the north in the mature forests . . . I don’t know a lot about the Masonic Temple chimney . . . but during migratory seasons, spring and fall these birds gather in huge numbers . . . apparently this chimney houses 2000 birds at a time . . . and it’s critical that they have these roosting sites during migration . . . So these places are going away very quickly . . . So every one that we can replace or maintain is critical for their continued existence . . . These birds migrate from North America, Canada, all the way down to the Brazilian rain forest for the winter . . . and they come back . . . and they are very site-specific . . . so if they lose a tower, they have no place to go . . . and I would gather a good percentage would perish if they don’t have the same place to go back to . . . This is a worthy cause.”

to be continued . . .

———–

Save the Bethlehem Swifts:

ref: Bethlehem’s dolphins of the sky
ref: Gilrain gets scared
ref: The Noble family: “We will do everything we can to make sure that these birds are protected”

The Noble family: “We will do everything we can to make sure that these birds are protected”

Latest in a series of posts on the Swifts

Save Our Swifts GoFundMe page

“Feeling is first,” says the poet cummings.

And the feeling that lover of birds Jennie Gilrain felt when the appearance of construction fences made demolition of the Masonic Temple a stark reality was fear.

Fear for the Swifts that nest in the Temple chimney.

But “good things started to happen,” Jennie exults, when she made contact with the developer family — John, Lynn, and daughter Casey Noble (a second daughter Bailey is now living in Los Angeles but will also be involved in the project).

Jennie “made me aware of the Swifts,” admitted John.

“We really had no idea!” says Lynn.

The Noble family became ready co-conspirators with Jennie in a project to save the Swifts.

John, a self-employed business man, and Lynn, a fine art photographer and writer, met while John was at Lehigh, Lynn at DeSales. Casey is Project Manager for Elevate Construction, and Bailey is an actress who also owns her own business.

John bought the Wilbur Mansion/Masonic Temple property in 2016, “without a plan, but knowing that with the right preservation we could create a gateway focal point for Bethlehem.” Gadfly, like you probably, has eagerly followed the changing plans for the site since then through stories in the local media. John last appeared here in the blog last February, just before the pandemic slowed things down. He is now breaking ground for a development that combines apartment living with hotel, restaurant, and event space.

“My first big commitment to preservation came in 2008,” John recalls, “when I was able to work with my neighbors to acquire 45 acres stretching along a mile of the Saucon Creek. We worked with the Wildlands Conservancy and Lower Saucon, raising some of the funding to prevent its development and blanket the land with a conservation easement.”

“The wildlife along this land is absolutely amazing,” John exclaims.

“Nature is what inspires almost everything we do,” Lynn explains. “We have always been concerned with protecting the land and the wildlife around us. I can tell you many, many stories about how our family has saved countless animals . . . deer, fox, possums, rabbits, geese, ducks, and many different varieties of birds! We even caused an uproar with the Bethlehem Board of Health the time we rescued a fox!”

“We will do everything we can to make sure that these birds are protected,” Lynn promises.

“I’m big into birds,” assures John.

Gadfly hears the Swifts sigh with relief.

Along with Jennie.

The Nobles’ new building

to be continued . . .

———

ref: Bethlehem’s dolphins of the sky
ref: Gilrain gets scared

Gilrain gets scared

Latest in a series of posts on the Swifts

Save Our Swifts GoFundMe page

One day I was walking by the site and noticed a chain link fence . . .
and then I got really scared.

Jennie Gilrain

ref: Bethlehem’s dolphins of the sky

Meet Jennie Gilrain.

And listen to her “little story” (3 mins.):

“A little story . . . I’ve lived on the south side of Bethlehem . . . since the 1980s . . . I love animals, and I love birds, and I love to sit on my back porch . . . I love birds, and so I watch them . . . and I had been noticing at some point these birds really high in the sky . . . and I couldn’t figure out what they were . . . sort of looked like barn swallows . . . maybe bats . . . They flew in such an amazing pattern . . . almost like they were playing with each other in the air . . . in pairs, in trios . . . I figured out finally that they were chimney swifts . . . My husband Mark and I went on a walk every night one summer to figure out where they were roosting . . . and one day we were walking across the bridge to go to the north side, and we noticed this swarm of birds going into the Masonic Temple chimney . . . and then we started to visit the chimney frequently to watch them go in . . . and this summer I started inviting . . . groups of people to the parking lot at the Masonic

Temple to witness this amazing phenomenon . . . such a beautiful sight . . . and even one morning convinced a friend of mine to go at dawn to watch them come out of the chimney, which is

a whole other thing, very different dynamics . . . I knew the Masonic Temple was slated for demolition but didn’t know how soon . . . One day I was walking by the site and noticed a chain link fence . . . and signs of construction . . . and then I got really scared . . . and put it in high gear . . . and then good things started to happen . . . which have a lot to do with John and Lynn and Casey Noble.”

to be continued . . .

Bethlehem’s dolphins of the sky

Latest in a series of posts on the Swifts

Save Our Swifts GoFundMe page

You’ve seen them.

Just like the Gadfly.

Perhaps at summer dusk on manic 378 cruising south while trying to navigate the tight thru lane with one eye.

Perhaps on the 3rd St. Perkins hill, waiting at the stop light (does anybody ever get through that light?), where you can roll down your windows and hear as well as see them.

And you’ve wondered.

Just like the Gadfly.

And maybe you stopped one time for a closer look.

Just like the Gadfly.

 

And felt your questions succumb to a sense of awe at the magic unfolding before you.

Just like the Gadfly.

———-

film by Jennie Gilrain, August 2020

Zoom invitation: Protecting the Chimney Swifts of Bethlehem (Monday, 12/14, 7PM)

Latest in a series of posts on the environment

Let’s boom the Zoom!

Protecting Threatened Chimney Swift Populations
video

“These are the dolphins of the sky. They are magical and happy. And they are just out there cleaning up our skies, removing all these insects that bug the heck out of us.”

———–

Dear Friends of the Swifts,
Below, please find the link to a meeting on Monday, 12/14/20 at 7 pm to discuss the Chimney Swifts of Bethlehem.
Update: The Masonic Lodge is scheduled for demolition in the next 3 months.The developer has agreed to build a chimney swift tower on the property to replace the Masonic Lodge chimney with the help of the community. Scott Burnet, Chairperson of the Habitat Committee of the LV Audubon Society and chimney swift expert, has been in conversation with the developer about the dimensions, construction and location of the chimney swift tower. The developer has consulted with his structural engineer. The plan is to build a 30′ high 5′ square tower out of masonry. Scott Burnet concurs that a tower built out of masonry is better and longer lasting than one built out of wood. The cost is estimated at $20,000.
Goals of our meeting:

Educate all of us about this threatened species–Scott Burnet

Share possible fundraising strategies for the construction of a Chimney Swift Tower at the Masonic Lodge redevelopment site

  1. Individuals
  2. Foundations
  3. Grants

Discuss visions, goals, and strategies for a Bethlehem city-wide effort to Save the Swifts

Jennie Gilrain

———-

Topic: Save the Swifts
Time: Dec 14, 2020 07:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)Join Zoom Meeting
https://lehigh.zoom.us/j/93797804256?pwd=Sms1RU5iUWRvYmVMbVR2NWc2Sk0yQT09
Meeting ID: 937 9780 4256
Passcode: 308441
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