A Brief History of Cattle Egrets in Allen
Celebration Park (2013)
In 2013, a five-acre wooded section of Celebration Park adjacent to Angel Parkway was closed for over six months as a large population of federally protected Cattle Egrets nested, creating a public health issue and significantly impacting the environment. Parks staff spent significant time cleaning the area and trimming low vegetation and small trees in order to thin the forest canopy to discourage future nesting. Other methods utilized and suggested by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service included raising balloons that have a large “eye” or similar graphic and devices that temporarily create a noisy, disruptive environment.
Stacy Ridge Park (2014)
Evidence of nesting at Stacy Ridge Park was not detected until late April 2014 due to the dense nature of the greenbelt and forested area. At the point activity was known, nesting had begun, and by law the City could not disturb or harass the birds. The area was fenced off and closed until such time that all of the birds vacated the nests. Once all migratory bird activity within the Stacy Ridge Park site had ended, staff conducted the selective thinning of trees and vegetation to lessen the canopy density.
What Have We Done?
To address the migratory bird issue, the City's efforts have been focused on safeguarding public health, addressing the environmental impact to the extent allowed by law, and maintaining the recreational uses of the park. Following is a list of measures implemented over the last two migratory bird seasons:
During active nesting:
- Both nesting sites were fenced off and closed to the general public.
- Use of a state and federally approved biodegradable deodorizing spray to help diminish the odor caused by the birds.
Once confirmation that all migratory bird activity had ended:
- Extensive clean-up efforts were conducted at Celebration Park and Stacy Ridge Park. Efforts included clearing undergrowth and debris, removal of dead hatchlings and excessive bird excrement and restoration of park picnic tables and benches. Together, costs associated with these cleanup efforts exceeded $18,000.
- The most dense area of trees where both nesting sites were located have been thinned to lessen canopy thickness. Heavily forested areas are preferred for nesting purposes.
- A public awareness campaign was conducted, including post cards mailed to area residents, a public information meeting and ongoing notifications/updates via various media channels, such as e-newsletters and ACTV. There was also on-site signage regarding deterrence efforts.
- On-site visual deterrents as recommended by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
- Use of noise-making devices as recommended by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
- Continual monitoring of all City of Allen park areas.