Migratory birds such as cattle egrets are commonly seen in Texas as they journey annually between the United States and Canada. This natural cycle is a beautiful part of our ecosystem. Under federal law, the entire rookery (nesting colony) is protected once a single egg is found in a single nest.
The migratory birds are beneficial to the ecosystem in the following ways. They eat mosquitos carrying Zika virus and chikungunya virus. They help protect farm crops by eating 600-800 grasshoppers and crickets a day. They improve the health of livestock by eating fleas, flies, and occasionally ticks.
Challenges arise when rookeries settle near populated areas. These concerns relate to noise, odor, and other significant environmental impacts. City staff and residents are prohibited from interfering or harassing the birds once a rookery is protected. The best way to avoid the residential and environmental impact that may occur is with detection and public awareness.
What to do about migratory birds in your neighborhood
Remove any old, abandoned nests.Trim your trees. Remove deadwood, thin tree canopy to allow sunlight between limbs and other trees.
Familiarize yourself with migratory birds and which are the first to arrive, looking for good nesting places.
Find out how your neighborhood plans to distribute news of bird sightings.
Watch for “sentry” birds and report sightings to your neighbors.
Each species has a different breeding period. Be on the lookout for these birds beginning at these times:
February - Yellow-Crowned Night Heron
March - Cattle Egret, Great Egret, Great Blue Heron, Little Blue Heron, Snowy Egret
Check daily for birds and nesting material in your trees.Scare birds away as soon as you see birds on or near your property.
Use noisemakers, water spray or shine lights at night
Use long poles, tennis balls or water hoses to disturb early nesting material.
Scary "eye" balloons work, if hung high in the trees.
Nesting Season (March – October)
- Do not harm birds or eggs. These birds are protected by international treaty.
- Once birds begin sitting on nests, eggs are probably present. You cannot kill, harass, move or disturb the birds when they are actively nesting.
Pre and Post Nesting Season (November - February)
Remove any old, abandoned nests.
Trim your trees. Remove deadwood, and thin tree canopy to allow sunlight between limbs and other trees.
Destroy new nests before egg laying.
Use a combination of scaring devices before migratory birds lay eggs.