By Althea R. Sherman
Written within the early a part of this century, Birds of an Iowa Dooryard is filled with meticulous and witty observations of species either avian and human.
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Extra info for Birds of an Iowa Dooryard (Bur Oak Book)
Althea Rosina Sherman: Ornithologist of an Iowa Dooryard," from Women in the Field: America's Pioneering Women Naturalists by Marcia Myers Bonta, is reprinted courtesy of Texas A&M University Press. Sherman worked so assiduously Page vii Contents The Johnson County Songbird Project Barbara Boyle ix Althea Rosina Sherman: Ornithologist of an Iowa Dooryard Marcia Myers Bonta 1 Editor's Note Fred J. Pierce 11 Foreword to the 1952 Edition Arthur J. Palas 13 I. Watching the Birds of Our Dooryard 23 II.
She recognized more than ninety years ago that loss of habitat was the fundamental cause worldwide of the decline in numbers and species of birds. Sherman would no doubt be heartsick today to see yards shaved just one or two inches high, roadsides mowed edge to fenceline, streams straight and naked, and prairie and forest nearly everywhere supplanted by beans, corn, and cattle. She could not have imagined miles and miles of malls, superhighways, grandiose homes, and housing developments. In 1915 Sherman drew wide attention with her design and creation of her twenty-eight-foot-tall, nine-foot-square chimney swift tower, which enclosed a two-foot-square wooden chimney, a winding staircase from bottom to top, and four floors or levels.
Once she reached her Iowa acres, she launched her most impressive and innovative bird study. Hiring a local contractor, she laid out her plans for building a chimney swift tower. Three carpenters constructed the original structure in 1915. Made of white clapboards to match the house, it was nine feet square and twenty-eight feet tall. An artificial chimney of rough pine was built inside, two feet square and extending fourteen feet down into the tower. A door opened into the chimney, and a built-in ladder reached to the top so that the chimney Page 8 could be opened in the spring before the chimney swifts arrived and closed in fall after they left.