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Oklahoma City residents crying ‘fowl’ after neighborhood invaded by egrets

OKLAHOMA CITY – A flock of egrets is wearing out its welcome in a northwest Oklahoma City neighborhood.

One woman described it as “living at the bottom of a bird cage.”

Hundreds of these birds have set up camp near N.W. 10th St. and Council Rd., close to Lake Overholser.

Cliff Womack should be able to enjoy a walk around his neighborhood, but he can barely breathe.

The smell is nauseating.

“Just look at their trash cans,” he said Tuesday afternoon, pointing to a mess that resembles white paint. “That must be two inches thick of solid crap.”

Everywhere you look, there are white feathers and fecal matter.

It covers neighborhood roofs, yards, trees and driveways.

“They’re nasty,” Womack said. “They’re nice flying over a lake, but not in your backyard.”

Little ones are walking everywhere.

They’re cute, but Womack says this is a health hazard and they’re not helping property values either.

“I haven’t even seen [area houses for sale] have an open house. Who would have an open house with dead birds in the next yard?” she said.

Experts say just like the human residents, the egrets chose the neighborhood for its atmosphere.

“It was chosen by the egrets because it was a good safe place with nice, big, tall trees where they could raise their young,” Micah Holmes, with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, said.

This neighborhood has turned into a “rookery,” or a nesting, mating and offspring community of egrets that stick together to protect their young.

They’re federally protected as well, due to hunting practices from the early 1900′s.

So there’s very little these neighbors can do, Holmes said, but wait.

“Egrets are really neat birds. They’re part of our environment. We all enjoy seeing them out there, but it certainly is different when they’re right on top of your house,” he said. “The good news is, they’ll be gone soon.”

Holmes says those egrets should be gone by mid-September.

They’ll fly south, often to Central America.

Trimming trees after they’re gone might encourage them to choose a new home when they migrate back to Oklahoma next spring.