Migratory Birds

Egret

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 birds common 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 once birds have arrived?

  • 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.

What can you do if a rookery is established?

  • Continue normal maintenance of your property (mowing, weed-eating, edging, watering, etc.)
  • Power wash or spray down your sidewalks, lawns, landscaping, home, etc. to dissipate bird waste.
  • Contact The Colony Animal Services at 972-370-9250 or The Colony PD non- emergency at 972-625-1887 (24 hours a day) to report fallen eggs, injured, or dead birds. Animal Services will pick them up.
  • DO NOT attempt to handle birds, and DO NOT do anything to intentionally disturb the birds or their nests!

What can you do after nesting season has ended?

  • 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.
  • Be watchful and report these bird arrivals anywhere in your neighborhood in late winter/early spring to the City. They may not be your problem at the time, but that can change quickly!

Common Migratory Birds

Cattle Egret

Cattle Egret 2

  • 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 2

  • Length: 20 - 24 inches
  • Wingspan: 40 - 46 inches
  • 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

Snowy Egret

Snowy Egret 2

  • Length 20 - 27 inches
  • Wingspan 41 - 44 inches
  • Frequently noticed in area heronries
  • Bill is thin, long and black
  • Long slender neck
  • Black legs
  • Bright yellow feet
  • Breed March - August

Great Egret

Great Egret 2

  • Length 37 - 41 inches
  • Wingspan 48 - 54 inches
  • Frequently noticed in area heronries
  • Large white bird
  • Bill is thin, long and yellow
  • Long slender neck
  • Black/gray legs and feet
  • Breed March - August

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

  • Length 45 - 54 inches
  • Wingspan 66 - 79 inches
  • Very large bird
  • Not associated with area heronries
  • Slate blue body
  • Blue/green legs
  • Breed March - July

Little Blue Heron

Little Blue Heron

  • Length 22 - 29 inches
  • Wingspan 39 - 41 inches
  • Fairly small bird
  • Very dark coloration
  • Greenish legs
  • Pale blue bill with dark tip
  • Breed March - July

Additional Resources

For questions, bird sightings in trees, and general information regarding migratory birds, contact:

To report dead or injured birds, contact:

  • The Colony Animal Services at 972-370-9250, or
  • The Colony Police Department non-emergency at 972-625-1887 (24 hours a day)

For additional information contact:

  • Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Urban Wildlife Biologist at 972-293-3841, or
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services Division of Migratory Bird Management at 703-358-1714