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Riverwalk Tree Swallows

Perhaps you’ve seen them diving and darting through the sky like tiny blue jet fighters… they rid the skies, and our yards, of pesky mosquitoes and other biting bugs.We’re talking about swallows. There are several species of swallows, but today we’re focusing on a relatively new population of tree swallows in Chattanooga. The Riverwalk Bird Club unknowingly created a special habitat for these tiny birds, who bring joy to thousands of Riverwalkers, and now to scientists as well. Wild Side Guide Richard Simms shares a tale of an epic journey of people and tree swallows.

Chattanooga’s Riverwalk is a great place to enjoy the Wild Side right in the middle of an urban setting. Beginning at Chickamauga Dam, Riverwalk stretches for 10 miles along the river to downtown Chattanooga. The lighted, concrete trail is great for walking, biking, and of course, bird watching.

The Riverwalk Bird Club got it’s start about 7 years ago when some local bird watchers came together to watch a peregrine falcon that made its home on the Tennessee River railroad bridge below Chickamauga Dam. Today they not only enjoy watching birds together, but are also very involved in making and placing bird houses along the trail. As Harold Sharp, one of the founders likes to say, “If it’s not fun, we don’t do it.”

If you would like to help researchers like Dr. Aborn learn more about these migratory birds, please report any banded birds you might see or find. You can do this online at When you submit a report, you’ll get a detailed report about when and where the bird was banded…you also help to protect our feathered friends.

We would like to dedicate this story to Don Broyles, a long time Riverwalk Bird Club member. Don passed away a few months after we shot our story. Don built around 170 bird houses that were placed along the Riverwalk. He was a true conservationist and lover of birds…he will be missed.