Egret invasion returns to The Colony neighborhood

The Colony is wrapping up efforts to prevent egrets from nesting in a neighborhood.

The city and residents have been proactive in trying to keep them away, but the first nest has been built.

The federally-protected birds built over 250 nests in front of five homes on Pemberton Lane in The Colony last spring and summer. It left a huge mess behind.

Last year, things got out of hand quick. The city says by the time they got involved, it was too late. The birds nested and federal laws prevented them from doing much of anything.

This year, the city and residents got to work before the egrets came in to try to prevent a repeat.

Ron Lane is among the many neighbors who hung up what are called "scare-eye balloons.” It's a known deterrent to prevent egrets from nesting.

The city handed the balloons out to residents this year. It also set up a noise machine to scare the birds off and used other noisemakers too that sometimes caught neighbors off guard.

“I had just awakened and I heard that shot go off,” said Elaine Barton. “And I thought who is doing what?”

It is all to prevent a swarm of egret, a nightmare situation for neighbors last year. The droppings and smell are at times sickening.

“It was really a horrific situation for our residents to deal with,” said Pam Nelson, The Colony community services director. “But it was also bad for the birds to be in that position.”

Nelson is The Colony's point person for the egret problems. The city has been patrolling the neighborhood for weeks now and removing nesting materials. But this week, crews found an egg in a nest. It means the preventative efforts in the area must stop.

“It seems that we were pretty successful in keeping a high density of the scout birds from nesting in one particular area,” she said. “So what we don't know yet is how successful that will be in terms of how many of the egrets return to the area.”

Neighbors like Lane are thankful the city did what it could to ward the egrets off.

“I think the city is doing an excellent job trying to alleviate the problem from returning,” Lane said.

Now, all they can do is wait to see what nature sends their way.