Agassiz Audubon Society volunteers Alan and Diana Morkassel recently completed construction of the first Chimney Swift tower in downtown Warren. The 14-foot bird house stands in front of Warren City Hall on Minnesota Hwy 1.

"We couldn't have done it without the help of our friends at City Hall," said Diana Morkassel, owner of Spruce-Up Nursery in rural Warren. "We think it's a great location - and we hope the birds do too."

With an average flying speed of 50 mph, Chimney Swifts are one of the fastest fliers in the bird world - and they spend all day in the air, coming to rest only at night. They feed on aerial plankton - catching beetles, wasps and bugs in their beaks as they fly. They even drink on the wing. During migration, you might see these amazing little birds flying over chimneys at dusk in large tornado-like flocks. Then suddenly they swirl in descent as they head into the chimney to roost for the night. But unfortunately, Chimney Swifts are facing extinction. Their populations have dropped over 50% in the past 40 years.

"Our goal is inspire local communities throughout Northwestern Minnesota and the Red River Valley – to learn more about birds, to create habitat for them and to have fun doing it," said Van Hapka, President of Agassiz Audubon Society.

The construction of this box marks the completion of the first year of the Society's Community Nest Watch project, which focused on insect-eating birds whose populations are declining – Chimney Swifts, Eastern Bluebirds, American Kestrels and Purple Martins. With considerable help from their friends, Agassiz Audubon volunteers constructed one Chimney Swift tower, 50 Eastern Bluebird boxes, 10 American Kestrel boxes and one Purple Martin box.

The cost of construction materials for the Chimney Swift tower was provided by a grant from the Minnesota Ornithologist's Union in Minneapolis and in-kind donations from LOWE'S in Grand Forks.

Agassiz Audubon Society is recruiting volunteers with construction skills to help build and install nest boxes in their communities – and then monitor them throughout the summer. If you'd like to get involved - or help sponsor a nest box, call the Audubon Center at 218-745-5663.