No Egret Problems So Far in Fort Worth

Egrets typically arrive in March and can cause major damage to plant life

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Egrets are beginning to nest in North Texas and residents in the Tanglewood neighborhood are using tennis balls to scare them away. (Published Friday, Apr 25, 2014)

    The long winter may have delayed the arrival of migratory birds that have been known to damage trees and neighborhoods in Fort Worth.

    Two years ago, the Tanglewood neighborhood's problem is serving as an example on how to keep the egrets and herons from nesting.
    Folks in the Tanglewood are already have signs out, nets up and there's barely a bird in sight on Friday afternoon, at least not those they're trying to prevent.
    Scaring off egrets from nesting is as routine as yard work for residents on Tanglewood Trail, like Mary Rymell.
    "We've had a few herons in the neighborhood, but we've managed to control those so with the help of all the neighborhood we've done a great job," said Rymell.
    Two years ago the damage left by the federally protected birds, which cannot be touched once they start to nest, was almost indescribable.
     "Oh it was horrible, down at the end of Tanglewood Trail it was just massive," Rymell said of the rookery that formed above several houses.
    But last year, residents dramatically reduced the numbers and they hope to do so again this year.
    One resident told NBC 5 off-camera that there wasn't anything to say because there were no birds. She said they've even stopped having to scare the birds on a nightly basis, they're so few.
    The city expected to see the birds in mid-February, but they didn't really start arriving until mid-March. So far, the birds, which are protected under an international treaty, haven't caused any problems.
    One spot the city is keeping a watchful eye on is Sylvania Park north of state Highway 121. Last year thousands of birds claimed the east side of the park. So far, there haven't been any problems, but the mess from last summer was so bad that the city dedicated an entire work day to cleaning it up last September.
    The city is helping neighborhoods with best practices to scare away the birds.
    Rymell and the city both said the best methods are to make plenty noise and by hitting or throwing tennis balls into the trees. The tennis balls don't harm the birds but do startle them.
    The city held informational meetings started in January about how to prevent an infestation of the damaging birds.
    Neighbors in the Ridglea Hills neighborhood said they have seen more egrets this year, but that they see them every year.
    Residents around the private Bal Lake, to which there is no public access road, spend every dusk sounding air horns and making noise to scare the extra birds off. The owner of the lake said they have the birds under control.
    Keeping the birds in line is exactly what residents and Tanglewood hope to accomplish for the rest of the spring.
    "So far we're in good luck," Rymell said. 
    The city will use a propane cannon if neighborhoods need any help. But so far they haven't had to use it this year and they hope the noise and tennis balls work.
    The city would prefer the birds to nest somewhere away from the public. The egrets droppings are known to be acidic and damage and kill plant life.