We Are a Coalition of Science-Based Organizations Uniting to Address Urban-Avian Conflicts in Bexar County
Urban-Avian Conflicts Threaten San Antonio's River Quality and Endangered Species
The current locations of urban rookeries have negatively impacted water quality in the San Antonio River, and the increased presence of bird feces in and around the river can cause various health and environmental concerns. Additionally, the competition for food and nesting resources between native bird species and urban rookery species further threatens the habitat and survival of native bird species. This conflict has also posed a threat to endangered species cared for by the San Antonio Zoo, as the transferable diseases from urban rookery species can be fatal to these animals.
The Coalition for Sustainable Urban Rookeries Aims to Balance Wildlife and Community Needs
The Coalition for Sustainable Urban Rookeries in Bexar County understands the significance of finding a balance between the needs of local wildlife populations and the community’s public health and quality of life. We are seeking to develop science-based solutions for sustainable urban rookery management that benefits both people and nature.
We believe that enjoying birds in urban environments creates opportunities for understanding nature, supports environmental stewardship, and also drives economic benefits for the communities they co-exist in. Species found in urban rookeries can include seabirds and wading birds, and some species that are common in San Antonio include the Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, Double-crested Cormorant, Neotropic Cormorant, and the Cattle Egret.
Long-Term Solutions Sought for Sustainable Urban Rookery Management in Bexar County
Our coalition recognize the importance of balancing the well-being of local wildlife populations, river water quality, and the community's public health and quality of life.
We understand that overpopulated urban rookeries are not a short-term problem and not unique to San Antonio. Other metropolitan areas in Texas have experienced similar issues, and prior attempts to mitigate rapid urban rookery growth have not had sustained success.
In the absence of a holistic approach to addressing urban-avian conflicts in Bexar County, our coalition has compiled a science-based set of strategies and guidelines to initiate a conversation toward solutions.
The objective is to draw colonial nesting wading birds away from urban parks or neighborhoods by creating multiple attractive rookery environments far from urban centers, airports, etc.
Rather than simply deterring birds from nesting in urban areas, we will bring our science and wildlife management expertise to identify and promote the development of criteria and potential locations for alternative rookery sites that could be attractive, safe and sustainable for colonial waterbirds as well as other native migratory birds. By identifying general locations along their migratory paths, we can take a science-based approach to identifying conditions that will provide alternative nesting locations and entice the birds to explore other desirable nesting locations, reducing the population density in primarily urban spaces.
- Located away from urban centers, airports, and other human development
- Year-round water source
- Desired shoreline with a gentle slope to deeper water
- Adequate food sources nearby (aquatic: fish, crustaceans, amphibians)
- Sufficient tree canopy to support vertical stratification of nesting sites to reduce competition for available space and territories.
- Diversity of materials to build nests (Egrets may use sticks and twigs while Cormorant species use greenish twigs with leaves for their nest building)
- Protection from predators and adverse environmental conditions
- Consistent resources for nesting, breeding, foraging, and feeding
- Artificial nesting structures (ANS) to simulate islands and provide structures for nesting
- ANS will have multiple platforms to support nests
- Branch height at least 4m or higher, over water
- Decoys and recorded sound calls may be used to attract scout birds and encourage nesting
This will help develop a more targeted approach to managing the rookeries and prevent overpopulation from causing negative impacts on water quality, native bird species, and the community. By considering the natural balance of the ecosystem, we can develop strategies that will support the health of all wildlife populations.
We will seek input from indigenous communities to ensure that our strategies reflect cultural connections to the natural environment. By incorporating traditional ecological knowledge, we can develop approaches that are respectful and inclusive of all members of the community.
By working collaboratively with a range of stakeholders, including local organizations and community members, we believe that we can create a more harmonious and resilient environment for both wildlife and people. We are dedicated to developing interdisciplinary guidance on how to protect the environment and preserve the cultural fabric of our community.
We aim to create a platform where the community can share their ideas, questions, and concerns, as we work together to address the urban-avian conflicts in Bexar County. Our coalition believes that sustainable urban rookery management plans can only be achieved if all stakeholders are at the table.
Stay Informed: News and Resources
We’ve curated a list of news articles that provide updates on the current state of the urban-avian conflict, as well as the progress and actions being taken to address the issue.
Too much poop: San Antonio shoos federally protected birds from Brackenridge nests – San Antonio Express-News
The city looks to push them to a part of the park where they’ll muck up the waters less. [from San Antonio Express-News]
San Antonio wants to keep migratory birds from nesting in certain parts of Brackenridge Park, as their feces can be dangerous to humans and aquatic
San Antonio River water quality near Joske's Pavilion has suffered in recent years, and river scientists believe the birds could be a reason. [from San
Attempts to discourage birds from nesting in Brackenridge Park have been tied to a 2017 bond project to restore historic structures there. [from San Antonio
Injured great blue herons, egrets rescued from Houston-area property after nesting area destroyed, SPCA says – Houston Chronicle
Seventy-one juvenile great blue herons and egrets are now in the care of the Houston… [from Houston Chronicle]
The birds, which can typically be seen along rivers and lakes, have posted up in the Central West End [from ksdk.com]
SACRAMENTO — Many people living in the Pocket neighborhood of Sacramento have been dealing with herons and egrets nesting in the area, which have brought
Living cheek to cheek with bird species means being more careful about how we design our cities and buildings. [from MinnPost]
People can learn to coexist with urban wildlife. Lincoln Park Zoo is showing how. – Chicago Sun-Times
By studying animals in urban habitats, we’re learning not just about them, but also about us, and how our worlds affect one another. The zoo