Cattle Egrets in Allen?  That seems crazy!  The other day, I was walking around this beautiful little neighborhood lake, trying to get some pictures of a Great Egret and some wood ducks swimming and hunting in this local pond.  I noticed some strange sounds coming from across the pond every now and then – it sounded like an owl and a bobcat having a fight.

I was very curious, but there was not a bridge to cross over to the other side.  After hearing the sounds several times, I hopped in my car, and quickly wound my way through the neighborhood trying to get to the other side of this little pond.  I finally found an entrance to a path, that I assumed would lead me back to the pond.  I could still hear the crazy animal sounds coming from somewhere close by, so I headed in the direction I thought they were coming from.

As I walked toward the crazy loud animal sounds to see what was going on, I passed several people on my way, and none of them seemed interested in what was going on or even wondering what was making these crazy, loud noises.  Hmmm…what did I not know?  As I got closer & closer to the sounds, I realized it was the same animal sounds repeating over and over.

I looked up, and there it was – a small speaker up in one of the trees playing these wild animal sounds every few minutes.  The speaker was attached to the tornado warning siren tower for this neighborhood.  I could not figure out what this was all about, so I made my way back to the pond, to try and get some good photos.  I figured some kids were playing some sort of a prank on this community. All in good fun, I thought.  So I went about my business.

Here is one of the ducks I was trying to take photos of. I was able to get a few pictures right before the fireworks started!

Just as I was about to get in the perfect spot to shoot the wood ducks and the Egrets, someone set off a firecracker just a few feet behind me on the trail.  I just about jumped out of my skin!  Not only did it totally frighten me, but it also scared away ALL the ducks and Egrets that I was there to take photos of!  Ugh…

And even worse, just as I calmed myself from the loud firecracker sound, someone blew an air horn from the same area!  Oh my goodness…what was going on?  I was so annoyed by the teenagers that I assumed were on their bikes behind me on the trail.  I figured they were watching me through the trees and having a good laugh at the old lady who had just been scared half to death!  Little hoodlums!

I figured they had gone on their way, when another firecracker went off, followed again by another air horn!  What in the world.  I decided that there was no need to stick around – every bird and duck for miles was now gone, so I started back towards my car.  Every 2-3 minutes as I walked back, I heard another firework being exploded followed by an airhorn.  As I was cursing the teenagers who messed up my perfect shot, I saw an Allen Parks & Recreation truck parked up on the grass near the trail entrance.

Hmmm…had someone called about these teenagers?  They must have.  But why would they send Allen Parks & Recreation after them?  Shouldn’t it be the police?  After all, it was in the middle of the day, during the week.  These little trouble-makers should’ve been in school, right?

As I was telling my husband about all of this excitement from my adventure, he and I both agreed that it seemed strange that Allen Parks & Recreation were there.  As we started talking more about it, we realized that there must be some kind of crazy animal trouble in that neighborhood.  Why else would they be trying to scare things away?  Bobcats?  Snakes?  What could it be?

After talking with a friend who lives in that neighborhood, we discovered that they are having a terrible time with Cattle Egrets nesting there.  Apparently, they create quite a mess, and they are very stinky!  Who knew??  I’ve seen Cattle Egrets before, but they’ve always been near farms and ranches that have cows!  I’ve never seen a Cattle Egret that isn’t right next to a small herd of cows.   Crazy little birds!

This is where I usually see Cattle Egrets – hanging out with a herd of cattle!

I decided to look up these Cattle Egrets for a couple of reasons.  I wanted to know about them, and I wanted to check to see if this guy’s story about Cattle Egrets causing trouble in their neighborhood was true.  Apparently, this guy new what he was talking about.  The problem with Cattle Egrets is so bad in this neighborhood that it made the local news!

Not just any news station, but NBC News!  Check out the article by Catherine Ross titled Allen Dealing with Cattle Egrets Again.  And you can see the news story below…

I decided to do some reading on Cattle Egrets and found out some interesting facts about them on the  All About Birds Cornell Lab of Ornithology website.

I read on their website that a Cattle Egret spends most of its time in fields rather than streams. It forages at the feet of grazing cattle, head bobbing with each step, or rides on their backs to pick at ticks. This stocky white heron has yellow plumes on its head and neck during breeding season.

Originally from Africa, it found its way to North America in 1953 and quickly spread across the continent. Elsewhere in the world, it forages alongside camels, ostriches, rhinos, and tortoises—as well as farmers’ tractors.

On many of my adventures lately, I have run across some beautiful pastures filled with cattle, and almost always, the cattle are surrounded by Cattle Egrets.  I love watching them, because compared to the cows, they are so small.  But…the Cattle Egrets have no fear.  They just walk along beside the cows, or perch on their backs, and peck at their legs!  Very entertaining!

Now that I know what’s going on in that neighborhood, I might have to go back and see if I can get some good pictures of them nesting!  What fun?  Well…maybe not if you are living in that area, but it sure is fun to be able to visit!  And then leave…  Let me know about your encounters with Cattle Egrets!  And send some pictures if you have some.  Until next time…