Fort Worth residents aim to tell egret invasion 'bye bye birdie'

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by JANET ST. JAMES

WFAA

Posted on November 8, 2012 at 7:51 PM

Updated Thursday, Nov 7 at 6:45 PM

FORT WORTH -- The cacophony of construction trucks is nothing compared to the racket on Tanglewood Trail in Fort Worth this summer.

"Just almost hated to open my door," said Richard Steed, a resident. "The smell and the noise. "

"It smelled like ammonia," added Billy Allen. "It was so terrible, it was unreal."

Hundreds of egrets chose this neighborhood to roost and repopulate. Empty nests now remain in the mature trees above the homes.

"Well, I used to have a lot of grass," Steed said, "And after about two weeks, all the grass died just from the bird droppings."

The City of Fort Worth said it's important that homeowners deter nesting by the federally-protected birds when they return.

"Because what will happen is, before they nest, they can be intimidated to move to another location," explained code compliance director Brandon Bennett. "Once they nest, not only are they protected, but even if you try to harrass them and all these things, you're going to have very little luck getting that done."

Fort Worth is hosting a free workshop Saturday to share tips on how to deter the birds. That meeting is from 9 a.m. to noon at the Christ Chapel Bible Church at 3701 Birchman Ave. An urban biologist with Texas Parks and Wildlife will cover bird identification and legal issues. A Carrollton resident, who has dealt with egret problems, will discuss her neighborhood's success story.

Carrollton faced federal fines for improperly and illegally destroying an egret rookery in the midst of nesting season in 1998.

"We have such things as decoys for owls and scary-faced balloons, and water and noise cannons and things like that," Bennett said.

He said that the birds are more than just a personal property nuisance, their droppings can also be a health hazard.

"If it's not cleaned up, it will dry out," Bennett explained. "When animals or people walk through it or cars drive through it, it becomes airborne. People can inhale that, and so it is a nuisance risk to people's health."

Bennett said planning and preparation are key reducing the risk and avoiding running afoul of these fowl.

And, as residents who have already endured egrets know, mother nature can't be billed for the nuisance and damage from birds.

E-mail jstjames@wfaa.com

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