Two new structures have recently appeared on the Atlanta BeltLine corridor. Looming roughly 15-feet-tall, these post-like beams may seem random and out of place. Is it art? Some obscure security pole? Or is it the foretelling of infrastructure to come? With a bit of luck from Mother Nature, these towers will soon become home to small birds called Chimney Swifts.
Now listed as a Vulnerable Species, Chimney Swifts are faced with a declining supply of locations suitable for nesting and roosting. While they still make use of natural locations, Chimney Swifts are most frequently found in urban environments using human-made structures for breeding.
Thanks to a temporary partnership between Georgia Audubon and Atlanta BeltLine, Inc., the two Chimney Swift towers will help support the conservation of Chimney Swift birds in the urban environment on both the Westside and Eastside Trails.
“The Chimney Swift is an awe-inspiring bird, spending almost their entire lives airborne. They are a very urban species and have repeatedly adapted to life with humans. However, these birds are now in trouble, primarily due to declines in their food sources and loss of suitable habitat,” shared Georgia Audubon Director of Conservation, Adam Betuel. “One way we at Georgia Audubon are aiding this species is through the construction of Chimney Swift towers, jumbo size nest boxes of sorts. These towers provide a nesting location during the spring and summer, a roosting site for southbound migrants in the fall, and they are eye-catching to the public.”
Georgia Audubon reached out to ABI about installing the Chimney Swift towers on the BeltLine after receiving a grant for the project. In late April 2021, the two partners began installing one tower on the Westside Trail south of the Lee St. / Murphy Ave. bridge, adjacent to Murphy Crossing; and the other on the Eastside Trail north of Ralph McGill Blvd., adjacent to the Telephone Factory Lofts.
“We were thrilled to partner with the BeltLine on the installation of two towers and we hope that these towers will provide vital habitat for this vulnerable species, fewer insects for trail users, and an educational opportunity highlighting that Atlanta is for the birds and that we can, and must, coexist with our native wildlife.”
The Eastside Trail location will include the installation of a native plant demonstration garden and related interpretive signage in the area immediately surrounding the tower. Georgia Audubon will be working with Trees Atlanta on the native plant garden installation this spring.
Locating the towers at a highly visible location like the Atlanta BeltLine provides an opportunity to assist in the overall conservation of Chimney Swifts in Georgia while engaging and educating the public about the link between native plants, birds, and other wildlife.
The next time you’re out on the trail, stop by for a peek, and maybe you’ll catch a glimpse of some early nesters.
GPS Coordinates for the two towers:
Atlanta BeltLine Eastside tower – 33.768029081412074, -84.36123996414393 – in front of Telephone Factory Lofts
Atlanta BeltLine Westside tower – 33.727446999583876, -84.41617312817229 – Not far from the Lee & White development