by Marilyn and Keith Davis

"A Suitable Nest"

Vermilion Flycatchers

         flycatcherEveryone loves the Vermilion Flycatcher.  A bright red bird with black wings.  It’s a real beauty!  Those who have had this flycatcher visit their part of the world in southern Utah definitely keep a sharp eye out each year to see if it chooses to come back for another visit.  People from northern Utah, with a bird ‘Life List’, keep an ear out to hear who knows where this flycatcher might show up so they can go there, to put it on their list.  Each year, people flock to the Winter Bird Festival to ‘Find the Vermilion Flycatcher’.  One of the few spots in Washington County where the Vermilion Flycatcher is often seen is at the St. George Wastewater Treatment Plant.  The following is a true story about Vermilion Flycatchers.  

        Each working day at the Wastewater Treatment Plant a large truck and trailer take sludge from the plant to the Washington County Land Fill where the sludge is mixed with wood chips and turned into mulch.  In this trailer, there is a little crevice with a hidden metal pocket underneath the frame.  A pair of Vermilion Flycatchers decided to make a nest in the little pocket to raise their young this year.  Was this a suitable nest?  The drivers of the truck said they could hear the baby birds inside this opening calling to be fed.  When the drivers found what the noise was, and noting the hole was inaccessible to humans, they took duct tape and covered the hole each day, so as to keep the nest and babies from falling on the ground during the daily trips.  After each trip when the truck arrived back at the treatment plant, the protective duct tape was removed, and the parent flycatchers flew to the trailer to feed their young.  This procedure happened day after day until the baby birds ‘fledged’.  

        We would like to give thanks to the conscientious drivers who went out of their way day after day to protect these beautiful little birds.  We are telling this story after the fact, now that the baby birds have left the nest, so we would not impede the operation of the treatment plant by a horde of birders arriving to see this once in a lifetime story.  

        Stories are fun to share with each other.  Thanks to Art and Jillyn Cottam for the Vermilion Flycatcher story.  The artist is Sarah Anderson.  If you have questions about birds or Red Cliffs Audubon Meetings and Field Trips call 435 673-0996 or go online to 

        Come and join us at our monthly general meeting on Wednesday, June 8, 2011, at 7:00 p.m.  The National Audubon Society and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology will present “Mississippi Delta Restoration and Gulf Recovery 2011"  at the Tonaquint Nature Center, 1851 S. Dixie Dr.  Come see and learn for yourself what has happened since the BP Deep Horizon well exploded, killing 11 people, then caught fire, sank and began to gush oil into the Gulf of Mexico for the next 88 days.  If you arrive early, you can enjoy the pond, the river, and a bit of wilderness in the heart of St. George.  For more information, call 435 673-0996.

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