Brian Scott, Denton County Reporter
The city of Carrollton is worried that egrets will flock back into town again this summer.
Egrets took over Carrollton neighborhoods two years ago and city leaders say the birds that often precede them have been spotted this week. The city is preparing efforts to keep them out.
City of Carrollton Environmental Services Director Scott Hudson says the yellow-crowned night-heron often acts as a scout bird for the egrets that have caused so many problems for the area in the past.
"When they set up and establish nesting it's a signal to the egrets that this is a good place to come nest,” he said.
Animal service workers have begun hanging shiny objects in trees and setting off loud, hand-held noise makers to make the birds uneasy and keep them from nesting. They’re also trimming trees to provide less area for the birds to call home.
The city also has several propane cannons ready to go that create a very loud boom to scare off large groups of egrets.
"After that first years’ experience we developed a strategy," said Hudson.
A year Allyson Baughn and her neighbors haven’t forgotten.
"We were basically prisoners in our own home,” said Baughn remembering the summer of 2011 when thousands of birds bred in and took over her neighborhood. "The streets and sidewalks were coated completely white, the debris was four inches; their droppings, sticks, regurgitation, carcasses," she said.
The problem they found was that egrets are protected under the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Code. Disturbing nests with eggs in them can lead to a $500 fine and six month jail sentence.
Baughn has done extensive research on the birds since that summer. He says the egrets breed very aggressively and bring with them noise and smells that create a personal health risk.
"The smell...the ammonia level was so high it would burn your eyes in the backyard,” she said adding her family actually had to wear breathing masks to take the dog out.
Hudson says they’re taking all precautions to prevent that scene from happening again.
He asks residents keep tree canopies thin to allow light to shine in, remove old nesting materials, hang reflective tape and scare eye balloons in trees, spray the birds with a water hose, and use air horns or other loud noises to frighten the birds.
The city asks you report any egret or other migratory bird activity immediately to Carrollton Animal Services at 972-466-3420 or firstname.lastname@example.org.