The Chimney Swift cam is a joint project of the Althea R. Sherman Project, the Cedar County Historical Society, and the Raptor Resource Project. We are live-streaming from Althea Sherman's original Chimney Swifts' Tower!
Althea R. Sherman (1853-1943) was an illustrator, educator, ornithologist, and writer born in National, Iowa. After studying art and earning her Master’s degree from Oberlin College in 1882, she taught illustration for a number of years.
In 1895, Althea returned home to National to care for her ailing parents. During this time Althea began a second, self-taught career in ornithology. She became a pioneer in the life studies of specific bird species, kept meticulously-detailed journals of her observations, published over 70 articles, and became nationally and internationally recognized.
Sherman wanted to observe and record the nest life of the secretive Chimney Swift. She designed a 28-foot tall, 9-foot square tower with a 2-foot square wooden chimney in the center which was built in 1915. Windows and peep holes allowed her to study the Swifts in the chimney at all hours of the day and night.
The Tower was restored for use by Chimney Swifts just last year but when no nesting activities had been seen by late June, we gave up hope that they would nest this year. Then, on August 2, a nest with 5 eggs was discovered!
There were still 5 eggs on August 3, and by August 6 there were 3 or possibly 4 hatchlings. As of 8-18-14, the 5 babies are probably between 13-15 days old, just in time for eyes to open and for first steps onto wall to begin. Both parents feed and brood the nestlings.
Chimney Swifts have been steadily declining in numbers over recent years. There is a growing conservation movement to help these birds by providing nesting chimneys and towers for them. This very structure is the prototype, the inspiration for ALL of the towers being built today. Althea could never have imagined global live-streaming from her humble Chimney Swifts' Tower!!!