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Announcing Sacred Mounds, a novel of Magical Realism and Historical Fantasy from Jim Metzner, with a foreword by Hutke Fields, principal chief of the Natchez Nation.
Cyclonic hordes of insects, a telepathic despot, body-swapping sex - just a few of the surprises Salvador Samuels encounters when he is swept back to pre-colonial times, walking in the moccasins of a blind Indian - who, in turn, has been transported into Salvador's body in present-day America. Sacred Mounds Book Cover Four hundred years apart, they are bound by a mission to rescue our world, aided by the mysterious presence of the mounds. Thousands of these ancient earthworks once dotted the landscape of North America. We still don't know why they were created. Sacred Mounds suggests they are as important today as when they were made over a thousand years ago. Sacred Mounds weaves the stories of two men, each a stranger in a strange land. With the help of two remarkable women, they must find a way to save our planet and return home.
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Swifts in the Chimney: The Pulse of the Planet daily radio program offers free legal online mp3 downloads, exploring the world of sound in nature, culture and science, with audio adventures, world music, extraordinary sound portraits, science diaries, and nature ring-tones; an amazing sonic experience.

Airdate: Apr 30, 2007
Scientist: Robert McAllister (see also in Actions)

Swifts in the Chimney

Swifts in the Chimney
Twice a year thousands of Vaux's Swifts use an elementary school's furnace as a migratory stopover.

ambience: Vaux's Swifts, children

In the late spring and early fall, students and faculty at the Chapman Elementary School in Portland, Oregon, get a special surprise - a chimney full of swifts. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

For over ten years, thousands of Vaux's Swifts have chosen the school's furnace as a migratory stopover. Keith Robillard is a graduate student in biology at Portland State University. He's been investigating why these small, protected migratory birds use the elementary school's chimney to roost.

"It's a substitute for historically what they have used, they are old, large hollowed out trees, old growth trees, that are basically dead and have been hollowed out mostly from Indian paintbrush, which happens to be a fungus. So it's hollowed out. It would take years for that to happen. Unfortunately, a lot of trees aren't around a long enough for that to happen."

The Vaux's Swifts prefer brick chimneys for a good reason.

"Bricks have air pockets when they form, when they make them. They have little indentations, and so those help the swifts hold on to them, they can grab onto the pockets. It's basically rough."

Bob McAllister is the principal at the Chapman Elementary School.

"This is a very unique bird, and they've become kind of a tradition in northwest Portland. Just the number of people that come down and watch them in the evening demonstrates that."

The local Audobon Society has helped raise funds to make the furnace usable by both birds and humans on colder days. The Vaux's Swifts' annual visit has become part of the Chapman Elementary school's science curriculum and the birds have even been made the school's official mascot.

Pulse of the Planet is presented by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.