After months of nesting in a Fort Worth park, thousands of egrets have flown the coop.
More than 4,000 of the federally protected birds called Sylvania Park on the city's east side home for the last few months. But for park-goers it's clear from the lack of noise in the last few weeks, the birds are gone and city park leaders are breathing a sigh of relief.
"Absolutely, there's much relief that they're gone," said Jerry McDowell, Parks and Community Services district superintendent.
Back in early June, the egrets started making their park and having their offspring in the park.
The birds departure comes a month earlier than when the typical nesting season ends in October. However, the city's animal care and control department isn't surprised as the birds arrived a month earlier than usual. The birds are more than likely headed to South Texas, Mexico or as far south as South America.
However, as predicted the egrets left behind a mess.
"If you look at the park benches there's bird feces all over," McDowell said.
On Sept. 30, the city parks department will work to remove all of the waste and see what needs to be removed or what can stay.
"Right now we have a plan, it's called Operation Squash," McDowell said. "We will come out and assess the damage, assess the trees, see if there are any trees that would need removing."
McDowell says crews will remove all the brush and twigs left behind by the birds. Crews will also reseed the park grounds and power wash the park benches. After the clean-up, attention will then turn to early next year when the egrets will likely try to return to the park.
"We hope to have in place some scare tactics," McDowell said. "That hopefully won't scare them into the neighborhood but to an adjacent park where there is low activity levels."
But the city would like to see the neighborhood and businesses highly involved in the effort to move the egrets somewhere else. Despite the smell and noise produced by the thousands of birds the city says they received few complaints. That said they would prefer to not have another park trashed next year.