Bethlehem Area Public Library: The Swifts Are Back! By Jennie Gilrain

April 28, 2021

Dear Friends of the Swifts – John and Lynn Noble, Wilbur Mansion Development Team, Lehigh Valley Audubon Society, Sierra Club Lehigh Valley, Bethlehem City Council and Environmental Advisory Board, Lehigh University Environmental Initiative and Southside Initiative, Freemansburg Elementary School, Artefact Inc., poets, journalists and affected citizens:

Wonderful news! The Swifts are back! And they use the chimney of the Masonic Temple as a resting place for the spring migration on their way from South America to the Northeast of the USA and to the Southeast of Canada! I saw 400-500 Swifts entering the freestanding chimney on the Wilbur Mansion property around 8:00 p.m. last night on April 27th. It was a beautiful sight!

Congratulations to the Bethlehem SOS Save Our Swifts team!

Big thanks to John and Lynn Noble for carefully maintaining the 45 foot high 5 foot square chimney in the demolition of the Masonic Temple as part of the redevelopment of the Wilbur Mansion property. (See photo below, taken a few months ago). Thank you to Bethlehem City Council for making the Chimney Swift the Official Bird of Bethlehem, and to Lynn Rothman and the Environment Advisory Board for supporting efforts to protect the Swifts. Many thanks to Scott Burnett and Peter Saenger of the Lehigh Valley Audubon Society for teaching us about these amazing birds and bringing charges to save them. Thanks to the Lehigh Valley Engaged Humanities Council for funding and the Bethlehem Area Public Library for hosting public forums to engage citizens in efforts to embrace the bird that has adapted to our urban habitat. Many thanks to the elementary school students from Freemansburg who spoke out for the birds. Many thanks to the professors and students at Lehigh University for their continued work on habitat conservation and restoration. Many thanks to The Bethlehem Gadfly and all the wonderful journalists who continue to tell the story of the Birds of Bethlehem.

-Jennie Gilrain

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