Defeat of the Egrets | Mexico | Living in Mexico

Defeat of the Egrets

Guano-bespattered walks and walls discourage human visitors from lingering on the path between Parque Juárez and the Cultural Center at El Chorro. Here, two of the culprits loiter beside one such wall.

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They're beautiful creatures, and they've nested in the area of Parque Juárez for ages. But humans have moved in. Many want the birds out. Recently the city triumphed in the years-long battle with the Parque Juárez birds. I posted about the cleanup effort two years ago.

Driven out of the park, the egrets moved to neighboring trees in the area of El Chorro, referred to by some as the Beverly Hills of San Miguel de Allende. The guano load in effect was transferred from the park to this exclusive neighborhood, a situation everyone knew would not be tolerated for long.

The other day, I noticed arborists topping trees, the same tactic that deprived egrets of nesting sites in the nearby park.

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This solution to the guano problem seems rather extreme: no more bird poop, but it leaves the trees looking like amputees. Gone are the graceful forms and leafy shade, replaced by ugly, hacked-off stubs. The birds can't nest on stubs, so they move on. Less poop: more ugliness. Is the tradeoff worth it?

Nesting egrets ordinarily live aloft, rarely descending to the ground. But today they have no other place to perch. They stand around on piles of slash looking dazed, avian equivalents of Hiroshima survivors.

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At least this year, the trees were cut before nesting had begun, unlike two years ago when the ground was littered with nests and nestlings. Then, neighborhood cats made quick work of the baby birds. Adults, though, are safe enough on the ground; felines wisely keep their distance from long-billed adults.

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