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North Texas Heat Could be Killing Off Some Federally Protected Birds

On East Stark Street in Seagoville, there are cars that slow and sometimes stop to avoid hitting the federally protected egrets that nest in the area, but not everyone does it.

"One of the egrets almost got run over in front of me," said Jose Vega. "It's just increasing numbers of dead birds."

Not just on the street, but in yards and in the woods, birds seem to be dropping dead.

"Honestly not surprised," said Brett Johnson, a biologist with Dallas Park and Recreation. 

Johnson said egrets have many offspring because only about 25 percent will survive. The North Texas heatwave isn't helping the birds, which are sensitive to temperature.

Many of the dead appear to be young birds that haven't learned to fly yet.

"It may be 105, 110 just in air temperature, but if they're walking down a concrete surface and asphalt surface, you know that can be 130-plus," explained Johnson. "So that's much tougher."

Johnson said not everyone welcomes egrets, but the only time to keep them away is before they nest. That can be done by cutting back tree canopies, and making loud noises or spraying water to scare them away. It is illegal to kill egrets, which are protected under federal law.

Vega filled a kiddie pool in his front yard, trying to give the birds some relief from the heat while keeping them out of harm's way.  

"I need to change the water cause it's green right now," Vega said. "It's part of life. We need to take care of life."

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