Graceful, long-legged water birds, egrets and herons nest communally in colonies called rookeries or heronries. Hundreds to tens of thousands of individuals representing three to five species come together during nesting season from late winter through mid summer. While fascinating in nature, rookeries do not make good neighbors in a residential setting.
Despite abundant natural habitat, colonial nesting waterbirds have created a rookery in the Wedgewood Forest area. When wildlife loses its innate fear and adapts to close contact with humans, problems arise.
- In 2008, the colony had over 100 nests and an estimated 500 birds.
- Noise and odor from the volume of guano, regurgitated food and fallen nestlings are a nuisance and may pose a health concern.
- In December, birds begin nesting in tall trees, usually returning to a previous site with growing numbers each year.
Before egg laying, birds can be persuaded to move. In consultation with wildlife biologists, Parks and Recreation Department developed an Action Plan:
Residents can help:
- Old nests were removed and trees were pruned at Wedgewood Park. Residents were advised to do likewise.
- When birds arrive, a combination of low-impact methods in a highly randomized pattern will be used to make the area undesirable to them.
- Broadcasting distress and predator calls, laser lights and water may be used to discourage nesting in the residential area.
- Some noise is unavoidable.
It is impossible to predict where the egrets and herons will go. Residents should monitor tall trees, particularly at dawn and dusk. To persuade birds to move, try the following:
Light and movement
- Air horn
- Barking dog
- Banging pots and pans
- Laser Light
- Strobe Light
- Flashing red light
- Tennis balls tossed in the air
NOTE: Once birds nest, they must be left alone!
- High pressure water hose
- Motion activated sprinkler
Protected by the Federal Migratory Birds Treaty Act, nesting birds, their young, eggs and active nests cannot be disturbed in any way under penalty of law.
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