Birds are taking over a Gustine neighborhood

June 26, 2013 12:38:42 AM PDT
Dozens of birds that are usually found near wetlands are nesting in a North Valley neighborhood. They've flocked to several trees in the Merced County city of Gustine.

People who live in Gustine say it's an odd phenomenon to see herons and egrets living in trees like these along city streets. And the big birds are drawing mixed reactions from residents.

It's easy to spot these bright white egrets and large, brown herons in the trees, and even easier to see their droppings, feathers, and broken eggs all over the ground.

Resident Susan Gonzalez said, "I think they're awful. They make so much noise, they sound like they're barking. The worst part is the mess they make. If you could see on my lawn, we washed it off two days ago, and we can't even have a decoration out here because there's bird poop all over it."

Gonzales lives near one of the most populated trees along Laurel and Lucerne avenues. She says her power bill has gone up since the birds moved in because she keeps the windows shut.

"i mean nice days like this I'd like to open the window and let the breeze in, but you can't because the smell is horrendous," explained Gonzales.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife tell us the birds have likely spilled over from nearby refuges, and the combination of ag land and trees in this area creates a perfect habitat.

John Coplantz enjoys watching the birds and knows they're only temporary. They came to this same spot last spring -- then moved on once their babies could fly. But he admits, keeping his yard clean is a tough task.

Coplantz said, "I wear a shower hat, so I can keep a little off, but I get hit once in awhile, it's not a big deal."

The egrets and herons are protected under federal law, so once they start nesting it's illegal to use loud noises, water hoses, or tree trimmers to get them to leave.

Local historian and bird watcher Pat Snoke says she's enjoying the unusual sight while it lasts.

Snoke explained, "I think it's wonderful! But then I don't live under those trees like the rest of my neighbors do."

Officials say anyone who doesn't want the birds in their trees next year must scare them away before they lay any eggs.


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