Migratory Birds



Wednesday, May 30, 6:30pm, The Colony City Hall, 6800 Main Street

Nesting birds, such as herons, egrets and other nesting waterbirds, bring challenges such as noise, odor and significant amounts of excrement that covers streets, sidewalks, cars and mailboxes on public and private property. People may find the birds' chosen nesting areas offensive and a nuisance when birds locate near their homes and businesses. Concerns of possible health hazards, as well as noise and odors are some of the most cited complaints.

However, these birds are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, a U.S. federal law that protects more than 800 species of birds during their migration between the United States and Canada. As a result, the City of The Colony is unable to address any complaints while the birds are nesting.

What can you do before nesting season begins?

  • Familiarize yourself with "sentry" birds. They are the first to arrive looking for good nesting places. Report sightings to your neighbors and to the City of The Colony by contacting Pam Nelson, Community Services Director, at [email protected] or 972-624-3958. 
  • Familiarize yourself with the variety of birds found in Texas. Each species has a different breeding period. Be on the lookout for these birds beginning at these times: February: Yellow-Crowned Night Heron; March: Cattle Egret, Great Egret, Great Blue Heron, Little Blue Heron, Snowy Egret. See pictures below of common birds to this area with basic descriptions.
  • Nesting season is typically March - October. Pre and post nesting season is typically November - February. Do not kill, harass, relocate, move or attempt to scare away the birds by any means during nesting season.

What can you do after nesting season has started?

  • Remove any old, abandoned nests.
  • Trim your trees. Remove deadwood, and thin tree canopy to allow sunlight between limbs and other trees.
  • Be a good neighbor and help those who may have special needs and/or team up with your neighbors when hiring a tree trimming service and ask for discount rates for group service.
  • Use a combination of scaring devices before migratory birds lay eggs.
  • As soon as you see birds on or near your property, begin using scare tactics.
  • Use noisemakers, water spray or shine lights at night.
  • Hang "scare eye" balloons or other moving objects in trees.
  • Use long poles, tennis balls or water hoses to disturb early nesting material.
  • Do not harm birds or eggs. These birds are protected by international treaty.
  • Once birds begin sitting on nests, eggs are probably present. You cannot kill, harass, move or disturb the birds when they are actively nesting.

Cattle Egret
Cattle Egret

  • Length: 18  - 22 inches
  • Wingspan: 35 - 38 inches
  • Yellow to orange bill
  • Short, thick neck
  • Hunched posture
  • Yellowish legs
  • Color may change during different times of the year
  • Breed late February - October 

Yellow-Crowned Night Heron
Night Heron

  • Length: 20 - 24 inches
  • Wingspan: 40 - 46
  • Frequently noticed in area heronries or as "scout" birds
  • Light to dark gray body
  • Gray bill
  • Small section of white feathers on top of head and along eyes
  • Long yellow legs
  • Breed March - July

Additional Resources

For more information about egrets, herons and other migratory birds, please contact Texas Parks and Wildlife Department at 972-293-3481.