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Richland Eagle Scout's project makes home for chimney swifts

| Wednesday, May 14, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Deborah Deasy | Pine Creek Journal
Michael J. Hopiak
Chimney Swifts in Pine Community Park now will have shelter.

Noah Adams, 15, of Richland always liked chimney swifts.

“They're really cool birds,” Noah told Richland supervisors weeks ago. “They eat one-third of their weight in insects every day.”

“Their natural habitat is threatened,” Noah said. “Most houses are not being built with chimneys.”

At Noah's request — with a unanimous vote — the supervisors gave Noah permission on March 19 to build a nesting tower for the flying mosquito killers in Richland Community Park.

With help from about 10 fellow Boy Scouts, Noah recently installed the 14-foot-tall, kiosk-style structure near the park's soccer fields — just in time for the migrating swifts' anticipated return to Richland on May 15.

“They winter in South America. They travel very far,” Noah said. “Their original habitat is hollowed-out trees.”

“They can't perch,” he said. “They have to cling to something.”

To obtain township approval for the new nesting tower, Noah showed Richland supervisors a photo of the structure he envisioned. He spoke about his building plans, and proposed $650 budget. Noah also showed the officials a drawing of chimney swifts that he made in third grade.

“I am incredibly impressed,” Supervisor Bart Miller told Noah at the supervisors' March 19 meeting. “That's probably one of the best presentations we've ever had.”

Noah hopes his nesting tower helps him earn the coveted rank of Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts of America.

Noah is the son of Ed and Sue Adams of Richland, and president of his freshman class at Pine-Richland High School.

Members of Boy Scout Troop 150 — they meet at Bakerstown United Methodist Church in Richland — helped Noah with his Eagle Scout project.

Noah also got guidance from Brian Shema, operations director for the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania at Beechwood Farms in Fox Chapel.

Noah's grandfather — Ed Adams of Franklin Park — helped Noah and his fellow scouts follow building plans by chimney swift experts Georgan and Paul Kyle of Texas.

“He's very into woodworking,” Noah said about his granddad. “He has every tool you can imagine.”

Noah also drew inspiration from his other grandfather, the late George Brakenridge of Michigan City, Ind.

Brakenridge prided himself on once winning second prize in a birdhouse-building contest. But Brakenridge's own dream of becoming an Eagle Scout was pre-empted by military service in World War II.

Materials for Noah's nesting tower included about $345 in T-111 plywood and pressure-treated deck lumber, plus green and white paint — in keeping with Richland Township's green and white street sign colors.

H.P. Star Lumber Company, Westmoreland Supply and Sherwin-Williams all donated or offered discounts on the materials.

Noah's fascination with chimney swifts took off years ago with a third-grade art assignment to draw a bird in flight.

“At the time, I liked fast things,” Noah said about his decision to sketch chimney swifts. “I thought it was cool the way they dived.”

Deborah Deasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6369 or ddeasy@tribweb.com.

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