Scouts work to aid the endangered little chimney swifts

| 22 Feb 2012 | 08:50

Vernon — Matt Forrest of Boy Scout Troop 912 organized his troop to build two chimney swift towers — 8-foot tall birdhouses — that will be erected at the Wallkill Wildlife Refuge in Vernon and the Avian Wildlife Center in Wantage as part of his Boy Scout Eagle project. These small birds can eat one-third of their body weight in flying insects each day. They are just five inches long and are often thought to be bats, as they fly about erratically at dusk snatching their dinner of insects during flight — much like bats. Their diet includes mosquitoes and other pest insects, which until recently were also kept in check by bats. The New Jersey bat population is declining drastically due to “white nose syndrome” — the fungus that has been killing the bats by the thousands. Providing nesting sites for the chimney swift, sometimes called the American swift, is now more important than ever. The swifts’ numbers have also been declining as their favorite sites, old fashioned chimneys, are replaced with modern, sealed versions. These simulated chimneys provide the birds a new place to build nests and raise young. Find out more About the plight of the chimney swift: About Scouting, call 973 827-9502.