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Texas town hoping federally protected birds don't come back this summer

All About Animals
Tuesday, January 31, 2012 - 2:48pm

After nesting cattle egrets caused a ruckus in Carrollton, Texas last year, the city will be using water hoses, noise and other deterrents to keep the birds from nesting this year, but that worries those living near last year's nesting spot.

Just two miles from Chamberlain is the neighborhood of Highland Heights.

People there worry new deterrents designed to keep federally protected egrets from nesting elsewhere may encourage them to take up residence in their neighborhood.

Last March, a few birds began nesting in mature oak trees that lined Chamberlain Drive.

The birds grew to a few dozen, then a few hundred with more hatching every day.

Soon the streets, mailboxes and cars along Chamberlain Street became whitewashed with bird waste and residents say that the city of Carrollton refused to clean the street because of concerns the noise could disturb the protected birds.

Once nested, federal law prohibits disturbing the birds, so residents were stuck with them, and their feathers and waste, through a sweltering summer of record heat.

"Imagine living in a bird cage for six months, in 100 degree heat, with little or no rain. That's what we lived through," resident Scott Baughn said.

Scott Hudson, city of Carrollton environmental services director, said residents who hope to discourage the birds from nesting should be sure to thin out the tree canopy, remove old nests and also use devices like a "scare-eye balloons" to encourage the birds to go elsewhere.

Air horns or other loud devices that are designed to scare the birds may also encourage them to find other locations before nesting -- whether that be on Chamberlain Drive, Highland Heights or any other North Texas neighborhood.

Once they've nested, homeowners must leave the birds alone or they could face financial penalties and possible jail time.

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