CRYSTAL, Minn. - There's a peculiar bird sometimes mistaken for bats that has been in decline but is getting a much needed boost these days.
"They're a swallow-like bird called the 'flying cigar,'" explains Ron Windingstad of Audubon Minnesota. "The chimney swifts used to nest in old growth forests that were cut down, then in chimneys with the onset of settlers."
"Chimney swifts have declined by as much as 40 percent in recent years and we suspect strongly that much of the decline has been caused by the lack of chimneys in which to roost," Windingstad added.
The solution now is to build artificial chimneys for the birds.
Now, Chris Arel is a Boy Scout on a mission. "I'm going to be earning my final rank in boy scouts," he said.
"The inside of this tower is a special kind of cedar siding that has not been treated," Windingstad said. "It's a rough cedar that is grooved every four inches that allows the chimney swifts not only to cling to, but also to build their nests on."
If you watch closely during these migration periods you'll see thousands of the birds flock to chimneys at dusk.
"There are some chimneys in town, like the school at Aquilla, where there will be 2,500 of them congregating prior to migrating south," Windingstad said. "They'll come back and use that nest every summer."
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