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Buchanan County bird observatory upright again

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Spectators photograph the historic Althea Sherman chimney swift tower as a crane lowers it Wednesday onto a foundation built for it at the Bickett-Rate Preserve near Buchanan in Cedar County. (Orlan Love/The Gazette)
Once used by iconic bird watcher Althea Sherman, tower had been in storage for 21 years.


Althea Sherman, a self-taught ornithologist, built the ingenious tower in 1915 in the Clayton County town of National to aid in her study of chimney swifts.


The tower’s artificial chimney attracted nesting swifts, which Sherman observed through windows and peepholes accessible from a circular stairway. Her groundbreaking bird study methods and meticulous observations attracted renowned ornithologists to National.


Born in 1853, Sherman lived most of her life in National, where she conducted painstaking studies of birds that nested near her home. Many of her observations were recorded in “Birds of an Iowa Dooryard,” a book published after her death. In 1912, she became only the fourth woman to be named a member of the American Ornithologists’ Union.

View the full article from the Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Gazette

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