Egrets and herons injured in Cypress nest destruction last May released back into wild, SPCA says - petsitterbank

Egrets and herons injured in Cypress nest destruction last May released back into wild, SPCA says

A group of juvenile birds was released back into the wild on Friday, almost two months after a Cypress nest was destroyed by a tree removal company in May, according to the Houston SPCA.

Twenty-eight of the 54 surviving great egrets and blue herons have recovered from injuries sustained on May 13 when the SPCA’s Wildlife Center of Texas admitted them for care, according to the nonprofit.

Initially, 67 birds died and 71 were rescued before an additional 17 surviving birds were euthanized due to injuries sustained when the tree clearing occurred at the Towne Lake neighborhood property.

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The birds were found inside trash bags by Harris County Texas Game Warden Jamie Hill.

“It ranged from busted eggs to hachlings and fledglings,” said. “I opened one bag which apparently gave enough oxygen to the birds in there that were still alive because at first glance it looked like they were all dead.”

It is unclear when the remaining 26 surviving egrets from the group of 54 will be released or if they have recovered completely. Attempts to reach the SPCA Saturday morning were not immediately returned.

The tree company was cited in May with violating a Texas Parks and Wildlife statute which protects these non-game birds from being injured or killed and their nests disturbed or destroyed.

The case is still pending and the company has not appeared before a court on the citation yet, Hill said, adding her agency conferred with the US Fish and Wildlife Services and determined to handle the incident at the state level.

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Blue herons and great egrets are federally protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and it is unlawful to kill, injure or capture them, according to the SPCA. More than 1,000 species of birds are protected under this act.

In the Gulf Coast region, herons and egrets often nest together annually from March through October in what experts call an “urban rookery,” according to Hill. Outside of nesting season, residents can remove nests without repercussions because adult birds can fly away.

Yet any harassment of the birds must stop when nesting season starts and the first egg is laid, she added.

TPW offers an urban rookery nesting guide for residents, cities and municipalities who wish to manage them legally.

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Joel.Umanzor@Chron.com

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