Pilot Program Provides Arlington Neighborhood with Tools to Deter Egret Nesting

Some may describe Egrets as lovely and soothing, but residents living under a canopy of their nests may choose other words to describe these creatures as they wreak havoc in their North Arlington neighborhoods.

Hundreds of Egrets begin migrating to Arlington each year beginning in February in search of a favorable nesting area to form their rookery. History shows they appear to choose the same location each year. When establishing a home, Egrets are drawn to large, well-established trees, with dense networks of limbs conducive for protection when nesting.

Rookeries may consist of a few dozen, up to thousands of birds. Before Arlington becomes inundated with large numbers of these birds, Arlington Animal Services has a plan.

First and foremost, to respect and be aware of: Egrets are federally protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. What does this mean? By law, none of these birds can be killed, or their nests disturbed once they have eggs or young. Not only do Egrets make their home in seasonally in Arlington, but we host varieties of Herons that are also federally protected under this law. It is unlawful to do anything to these birds once an egg is in the nest.

A proactive approach to discourage Egrets who are scouting Arlington neighborhoods for nesting areas is underway. As part of a pilot program, Animal Services will provide residents in a neighborhood that has previously experienced the most densely populated Egret rookeries with special tools designed to humanely send the birds away before they become unwelcome neighbors.

These “Go Kits” include items such as an air horn, bright streamers to hang in trees, a water nozzle and even a “scare eye balloon,” which is a common tool used to scare away birds.

Ray Rentschler, a Code Compliance Field Operations Manager with Animal Services, is in contact with neighborhood groups with a history of being affected by the stench of the bird droppings and the remains of frogs, mice and smaller birds dropped from the trees by the roosting Egrets.

Arlington has 4,651 acres of dedicated park acreage. River Legacy Parks provides a nearby natural area with 41 acres of hardwood forest land. Its mature trees with dense canopies offer a safe refuge for these beautiful creatures – they just need assistance being guided away from residential neighborhoods.

Rentschler stated that one of the best ways to discourage a rookery from forming in trees on your property is to keep them well-trimmed, so that the limbs do not connect from tree to tree, and to allow the sunlight to shine through.

“Hazing as soon as birds begin arriving will help keep them from establishing nests,” said Rentschler, “keeping in mind that many of these birds, such as the Black Crowned Night Heron and Yellow Crowned Night Heron are most active at night.”

For more information, contact the Action Center at 817-459-6777.