All she wanted for Christmas, Cindy Lovett says she told her husband, Paul, was a Chimney Swift Tower. When Oak Grove’s Lovett House was demolished, a popular chimney that the birds had used for decades was torn down. This new tower, the first free-standing one in Rehoboth Beach designed for birds, was intended to replace that old chimney at Canal Street and Rehoboth Avenue.
Chimney Swifts are indeed birds, often confused with bats, which spend their entire day in flight catching insects. They are unable to perch like most birds, so when it becomes dark, they return to their chimney where they roost for the night clinging to the insides.
The birds were featured in this May 2015 issue of Delaware Beach Life.
One of the best known chimneys the Swifts use in downtown Rehoboth Beach is at the rear of the Post Office, Cindy notes. Just prior to dusk the birds perform their dance above this chimney as it appears to suck them in, one at a time, almost like a vacuum.
Watch the Swifts perform their special dance as they sing and drop into the Post Office chimney in this YouTube video clip.
After the removal of the Lovett House chimney, Cindy promised herself she would replace that home somehow. Paul and Cindy looked for alternative habitat for the birds. After some research, they found plans for a Chimney Swift Tower on chimneyswifts.org. They commissioned “Uncle Charlie” Murphy, the builder of Egg, the new restaurant next door, to build it. And that he did, Cindy points out, exactly as depicted in the blueprints with insulated pockets, concrete base and proper ventilation.
Unbeknownst to Cindy, Paul negotiated a five-year lease with the Army Corps of Engineers, which oversees the land adjacent to the canal, to erect the tower, much as people would do for a dock. After some paperwork was completed, Paul got permission.
The tower has been up since April, so no occupants for this summer. But they are hoping the birds will move over the winter in time for the following season.