Nearly 70 teenagers spent Thursday morning building hangouts for some traveling adults.
The hangouts, consisting of shrubbery, trees, and power poles with artificial nests on top, will eventually attract a wide range of migrating, adult birds.If the area gets a thumbs up in the feathered world, the loiterers could range from small songbirds to large eagles, and even some Canada geese, said Bob Walters, the watchable wildlife coordinator for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.
"Until the birds start talking, we're hedging our bets that this project will work," Walters said.
The project site is a former refinery landfill amid the wetlands of the Farmington Bird Refuge. The work included the planting of cottonwood and willow trees, as well as chokecherry bushes. Also, power poles with man-made nests perched on top were donated and installed by Utah Power.
Except for the operation of heavy machinery, seventh-, eighth-, and ninth-grade students from North Ogden Junior High did all of the planting and nest-building.
"We want to give the kids the mind-set to help the environment," said Bob Lane, a biology teacher at North Ogden who helped organize the project.
Although the students spent only one day actually working at the site, located about four miles west of Woods Cross, they worked all year to raise about $1,200, Lane said.
The school's students have done an environmentally oriented service project each of the past four years, Lane said, although usually they plant trees in burned-out areas. This year's project took a different tone, because the students could get a better sense of the species their work would benefit.
"This gives the students a great opportunity to come out and get some hands-on experience," he said.
Helping the students appreciate the species they might help was Jo Stoddard of the Wild Redux organization, who supplied a close encounter with a red-tail hawk.
"In the coming years, this will be a great place for the birds to hang out," Stoddard said.
The hawk, she said, came to the organization five or six years ago from Nevada, where it was found with an injured wing. Since then, the hawk has never fully recovered, so Stoddard continues to care for it.
Preparation of the site has been ongoing since Phillips 66 closed the landfill in the early 1980s. When it was finally capped last year, Phillips contacted the Division of Wildlife Resources for a rehabitation project.
"It's a perfect piece of property for eagles and osprey," said Jacob Faibisch of the division.
Already, nearby ponds and grassland provide food sources for the predatory birds, especially carp and mice, Faibisch said. With the growth of the trees and artificial nests, the division expects the area to become quite popular with birds of prey.
"Eagles are very gregarious during the wintertime (when they usually can be found in Utah)," he said. "If they see an eagle in an area, the other eagles will home in on that area."
Most of the students who came out were honor students or those who had been heavily involved with the fund-raising efforts.
"I like to get into the wildlife areas," said Chan Chia, an eighth-grader whose interest in science got him involved with the project.
"I think it's great to get out and help the environment," said eighth-grader Melisa Dalpias. "We need to give the eagles a home."