"Raise the Roost" for Chimney Swifts

About the Campaign

During 2016 PVAS began a campaign to protect Chimney Swift habitat on Shepherd University campus. The project began when concerned community members learned that one of the West Virginia's largest roosting sites, Sara Cree Hall, was set for demolition spring of 2017. Upon raising awareness and reaching out to local stakeholders, PVAS initiated a mitigation effort to ensure that Chimney Swifts would continue to have roosting habitat on Shepherd University campus. 

In November 2016 Knutti Boiler Hall, a previously popular roosting site, was uncapped for Chimney Swift habitat. In addition, PVAS is looking to “RAISE THE ROOST” and build an additional roosting structure near the storm water retention area on University Ave, an area with abundant food availability that will not be developed in the future.

 Chimney Swifts                                                                                                                                    

Chaetura pelagica are a neotropical migratory bird that visit North America during their  northern migration period. Their small, slender bodies allow them to be magnificent fliers, and they are also phenomenal natural pest control agents as they are insectivores. Historically Chimney Swifts nested and roosted in standing dead tree trunks, but with the decreased availability of old-growth habitat, Chimney Swifts have adapted to the urban environment and use chimneys as nesting and roosting habitat. Unfortunately, as old historic buildings are removed and chimneys are capped the swifts’ urban habitat has declined in availability. Chimney Swifts have suffered a dramatic population decrease, 40% since the 1960’s, and are classified as "near threatened" by the IUCN.

How to Support the Swifts                                                                                                            

You can make a difference:

  • Join annual bird counts
  • Leave chimneys open, or uncap them
  • Build a faux chimney tower 
  • Raise awareness in your community 
  • Donate to PVAS and help RAISE THE ROOST!

PVAS members have monitored Chimney Swifts in our region for decades. We have identified several habitats that Chimney Swifts occupy and are always looking for more. Join us every August and September during the  Swift Night Out” events, where we monitor roosts and count Chimney Swifts! The data collected will contribute to nationwide surveys and databases, for use by researcher and ongoing conservation efforts.  Review the “additional information” provided at the bottom of this page to learn more.

Project Status           (updated 4/14/17)                          

PVAS is in the early stages of the “RAISE THE ROOST” campaign. Harpers Ferry Job Corps has agreed to help with the construction of our roost tower this summer. We are currently working to draft new engineering plans for the tower structure. Our next step is to confirm the best site for the tower to be constructed. We anticipate that the tower will be built somewhere along the perimeter of the bio-retention pond on the north side of Shepherd University campus. Site selection will be complete after thorough soil and topographic assessments. We are working to procure other materials (brick, cement and rebar) needed for the construction. The partnerships and community support surrounding this project confirms what a remarkable community we have in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia. 

If you are interested to learn more, get involved and support the “RAISE THE ROOST” project please contact Bridget Tinsley at 304-261-6016 or send an email. 

Additional Information                                                                                                                 

          © 2016 Potomac Valley Audubon Society

              P.O. Box 578 • Shepherdstown, West Virginia 25443
              phone // 304-676-3397

Yankauer Nature Preserve (Berkeley County)
Eidolon Nature Preserve (Morgan County)
Stauffer's Marsh (Berkeley County)
Cool Spring Nature Preserve (Jefferson County)

Kristin Alexander, Executive Director //   304-676-3397 

Ellen Murphy, Program Specialist //    

Krista Hawley, Adult Program Coordinator
// 703-303-1026

Bridget Tinsley, Land and Watershed Program Manager // 304-261-6016

Amy Moore, Cool Spring Preserve Manager and Naturalist // 240-818-4714
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