Friday, February 27, 2009

Chainsaw Massacre Coming to Channel 8 TV

News of the rookery disturbances will appear at 5:00 p.m. on Channel 8. WFAA will be reporting live from the Rookery.  St. James is a real pro and very dogged about this story. She was here yesterday afternoon when some of the excised underbrush and stumps were still on the ground, and back again this morning for some interviews. Everything happened rather quickly this morning. I tried to contact as many of you as I could but managed to reach only a few.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Part II

We walked the perimeter of the rookery this afternoon and were shocked by what we saw. So far, we had only seen the damage from our car as we drove to and fro. Please take a walk there as soon as you can: tomorrow if possible. It is important that we all see this.

Many thanks to those of you who contacted Salazar and took other measures to ensure the birds' well being. Some of you are encouraged by Salazar's quick reply that he is "committed to the safety and success of the bird sanctuary". Others are quite skeptical. Our reactions and responses do not have to be the same. The important thing is that we have put on notice those directly responsible for the recent cuttings and prunings.

A Game Warden from TX Parks and Wildlife will be here next week to examine the damage.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Texas Chainsaw Massacre

If you wandered by the rookery recently, you probably noticed that all the underbrush was cleared, and many trees cut down or pruned. All of this happened since this Monday, while over 150 birds were in place on their nests. Though it is certainly true that the weather is ideal for removing dying trees that the spring winds would probably knock down, it is actually illegal for a rookery to be disturbed while it is active. Last year, some trees and shrubbery were also pruned around the same time but only on the rookery's perimeter. This year, the pruning is more intrusive, the entire rookery is affected, and the birds appear to be quite upset by this.

It is time to let the UTSW grounds people know that we are disturbed by these recent activities, or at the least, that we are watching them. If you agree, please write a polite note stating your concerns to Mr. Orlando Salazar, the Grounds Maintenance Supervisor for the Physical Plant. I have spoken to Mr. Salazar in the past and found him to be receptive to comments about the rookery. For example, he has been very good about letting us set up water troughs around the rookery and leaving them alone. On the other hand, we cannot know what pressures are on him.

You might be surprised to learn this, but there are some who would like to see the rookery replaced by new facilities for people. The rookery was expected to kill itself many years ago, as many rookeries do, especially with a little nudge here and there. Instead, it has survived some quite damaging human disturbances, such as interference with a brook that ran through it, removal of numerous trees to construct tennis courts, etc. But I digress, and that was long ago. 

We must not allow damage to happen on our watch. You might start your message to Mr. Salazar by thanking him for his help to (or noninterference with) the Heron and Egret Society and then go on to state your concern about the recent prunings and, if you wish to be firmer about this, about the fact that an illegal activity took place. He needs to hear from us now and then, and not just from those who wish the birds were gone and call him to complain about the smells.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


Welcome back from the winter! I hope you are all well and happy.

The egrets began gliding into the rookery last Friday, right on schedule for Valentine's. About 150 birds are here: all great egrets. More coming all the time. The first arrivals get the best nests. They are fortunately those near the memorial garden, where one can sit and leisurely observe the most masterful curtsiers in their full mating plumage. Great show! This is also where, in about two months, the first hatchlings will be bobbing their spiky little white heads and kwak-kwaking.