KENT, Ohio — When you think of chimneys, Santa Claus probably comes to mind. But the city of Kent is taking steps to preserve a specific breed of bird that likes chimneys just as much: The chimney swifts.
The city built a freestanding chimney that will act as a shelter for the birds.
Chimney swifts originally lived in hollow trees, but like their name suggests, these birds adapted to nest in man made structures like chimneys.
Emily Ulm is an artist who specializes in hand-made tiles. She made the tiles that are now on the free standing chimney.
She said it is important to help restore the habitat of the chimney swifts because many of them have lost their homes in recent years.
"Unfortunately modern buildings often don’t have traditional chimneys," Ulm explained. "As old buildings get knocked down and replaced by new ones, they are again facing habitat loss.”
Ulm said the chimney swifts have a long history with the city of Kent. They have even earned a spot on the Kent State seal, which displays a chimney swift in flight at the top center.
"Chimney swifts are are a very easy bird to fall in love with, they are just so fun to watch," she said. "They are just really interesting little birds and I am very happy to help decorate their home.”
Ulm created several tiles that are now a permanent part of the chimney swifts new home. The tiles feature images of the birds themselves and other nature that is found in Kent.
"It feels really wonderful," she said. "I hope this is standing long after I'm gone.”
Ulm hopes that her artwork will help bring attention to the dwindling chimney swift population.
“Art helps educate people about why this is here, and what the purpose is," Ulm said. "The more people know, the more people will want to protect the swifts and keep them for future generations.”
The chimney is located on the hike and bike trail on Haymaker Parkway in Kent.