Officials in Harlingen are expected to consider an ordinance this summer that aims to prevent the illegal capture and sale of certain wild birds and establish the city as an avian sanctuary.
The proposed ordinance would protect Harlingen's population of red-crowned parrots and green parakeets, said Marci Fuller, chairwoman of the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival. The five-day event opens Nov. 9.
"(The Valley is) the only place in the United States to have what is considered a wild population," Fuller told the Valley Morning Star. A February freeze damaged the birds' roosting trees, she said.
Assistant City Manager Gabe Gonzalez said he has been working with Danny Hoehney, president of the birding festival, to write a city ordinance that protects the birds.
"The ordinances would prevent (the birds) from being captured in their wild native habitat," Gonzalez said. Violators could face fines.
A new ordinance would not prevent pet stores from legally selling birds, Gonzalez said.
Habitats should also be built for the birds, Fuller said. Supporters planned to erect trees Tuesday near a police station, establishing a site for woodpeckers to poke holes in the trees, which then sets up a place for nesting by parakeets and parrots.
Installing such habitats at police and fire stations discourages poachers from stealing the nestlings, Fuller said.
The Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival, in its 18th year, supports conservation, education and awareness, according to its website. Members are currently seeking information on sightings of wild parrots and parakeets as part of a bird counting and locating project.