Chimney of century-old N.S. building being preserved to save threatened birds
A small colony of endangered birds in Nova Scotia that call an old chimney home won't be forced to move, after officials decided to preserve the structure as part of an effort to save the tiny, winged animals.
Found across parts of North America, the chimney swift is a threatened migratory bird in Canada that spends the majority of its day in-flight, feeding on insects. In Nova Scotia, the small birds are protected under the Endangered Species Act.
When not fluttering around, chimney swifts in urban areas typically nest in chimneys -- as their name indicates.
In Truro, N.S., a colony of them are currently living in a chimney of the former Normal College – a more than 100-year-old building being renovated to become the community's new regional library.
The birds would have lost their home had officials not stepped in to save them.
"It was brought to our attention that the birds were there," said Jason Fox, Truro's director of planning. "And it was brought to our attention that we should make some efforts to try and save the birds, if possible."
Instead of knocking down the old smokestack, officials have decided to preserve it. A new chimney will be built next to the old one as part of the $7.2-million renovation project. Some of the funding for the project came from the conservation group Bird Studies Canada.
"Considering they're an endangered species, it's important to preserve anything that they've chosen," said Helene Van Doninck, who runs the Cobequid Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre. "They're fussy little things and they only like certain types of habitats."
Since 1968, the Canadian population of chimney swifts has been declining sharply – approximately 7.8 per cent a year. That represents a total decline of 95 per cent.
News that the birds will be saved has pleased library staff, who say they are happy to be sharing a space with the amazing species.
"The more I read about them, the more I found out they’re really quite fascinating creatures," local library services administrator Lesley Brann said.
"I think they're going to be some opportunities for us to incorporate their presence in the building."
With files from CTV Atlantic's Dan MacIntosh