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Sandy Journal

Sandy Girl Scouts build houses to protect nonmigratory birds

Dec 01, 2023 10:38AM ● By Peri Kinder

As part of their Girl Scout Bronze Award project, Sandy residents Madeleine Sission (left) and Taylor Wicker (right) built birdhouses for the black-capped chickadee that they placed at Sego Lily Gardens in Sandy. (Photo courtesy of the Sission family)

Two Girl Scouts in Sandy earned their Bronze Award after building bird homes and placing them at Sego Lily Gardens (1472 Sego Lily Dr.). Madeleine Sission, 12, and Taylor Wicker, 10, chose the project as a way to help nonmigratory birds survive the winter.

To earn the award, the girls had to go into the community to find a need they could address. After doing some research, they learned the black-capped chickadee and the western screech owl needed safe places where they could be protected from predators and cold temperatures.

With help from their fathers, Harley Sission and Ed Wicker, the girls found birdhouse plans online and talked to managers at Home Depot and Lowe’s to get supplies donated for the project. They also worked with experts at Tracy Aviary to make sure they created the best homes in a secure location. They built four birdhouses for the chickadees and one nesting box for the screech owls. 

“For the black-capped chickadees, we learned that they are going extinct, so that was a helpful reason to build them houses,” Madeline said. “So we’ll have four birds coming there and they might have babies, which can increase the number of black-capped chickadees, because right now they’re almost extinct. The population will grow and the birdhouses will protect them from predators.”

While the hardest part of the project for Madeleine was building the houses and making sure everything was exact, Taylor struggled with learning how to deal with all the red tape when it came to placing the birdhouses.

“I think the hardest part for me was all the confusion,” Taylor said. “We’d wanted to put the birdhouses in Dimple Dell, but we had to do it at Sego Lily because the city didn’t own the property in Dimple Dell.”

Members of Girl Scout Troop 294 attended a Sandy City Council meeting in November, offering the prayer and the pledge before Madeleine and Taylor presented their award-winning project. Madeleine, a student at Eastmont Middle School, and Taylor, a student at Peruvian Park Elementary, explained their project to the council and spent time answering questions. 

In a Facebook post, Sandy Mayor Monica Zoltanski wrote, “Madeleine Sisson and Taylor Wicker told us all about their preservation project to help provide habitat for native birds. They raised funds, engineered, built, and placed bird houses…Their work is an example of innovation, self-reliance, and community stewardship that are the pillars of our Sandy community. Thanks to the Girl Scouts of Utah for their efforts to make our city a better place.”

With the success of their birdhouse project, the two girls plan to work together for their Silver and Gold Awards. Madeleine’s mother, Jessica Sission, said the girls learned a lot as they went through the process of deciding on a project, getting information and support, creating the houses and getting them placed at Sego Lily Gardens. 

“With using blueprints and making the birdhouses, there were a lot of steps,” Jessica Sission said “So there was a lot of teamwork. When they did their presentation at the city, they took turns and they worked really, really well together.” λ