OUR CHIMNEY SWIFTS
We are proud that The Wilbur chimney is home to the official bird of Bethlehem. They rest and nest inside our chimney twice a year along their migratory route to South America.
In December of 2020 the demolition of the Masonic Temple took an interesting turn. All excavation halted when our owner, John Noble, was approached by a neighbor and member of the local Audubon Society, Jennie Gilrain. She explained to John the Temple’s 40 ft. high chimney was used as a resting stop along The Swifts migratory route to South America and could not be torn down. As a lifelong advocate for nature and wildlife, John knew he would do whatever it took to keep our chimney upright. With the help of our local community, the Audubon Society, engineers and architects we were able to find a way to save the existing chimney.
Chimney Swifts are unique birds that spend the majority of their life in flight. Their anatomy, including curved claws do not permit them to sit on flat surfaces, which is why they rest on the interior walls of chimneys and hallowed out trees.
At the end of April we got our first glimpse of The Swifts return to The Wilbur’s chimney! Jennie witnessed 400-500 enter the chimney. It’s quite a spectacle as they dance in unison, swirling around the chimney. They dance like this for a while before one brave swift will make the dive and swoosh into the chimney. Towards the end of their dance, each bird is diving into the chimney almost simultaneously.
As The Wilbur’s construction progresses, we are looking forward to visits from The Swifts every spring and fall and hope our guests will enjoy their spectacular flight as much as we do!