ALLEN –– Thousands of invasive birds forced the closure of part of one of Collin County's most popular parks.
Egrets turned a wooded area at Allen's Celebration Park into a nesting ground. The Allen Parks and Recreation Department had no choice but to close the wooded area of the park where the jogging and cycling trails are located.
The egrets built hundreds of nests in the treetops. Below, there's a carpet of bird droppings and feathers, creating a foul stench.
James Fleming first saw them at the Allen USA event Saturday night.
"The minute the fireworks stopped, I had never seen such a sight," Fleming said. "It was dark at night. But because the birds are so large and so white, it was a sea of birds that flew directly over the park. It was pretty spectacular."
Allen Parks and Recreation officials said they closed the area off because egrets are federally-protected migratory birds. There are also public health concerns, as a result of droppings, dead birds, and rotting eggs.
"The public was using the area regularly, and we wanted to keep the public out of the area," said Brian Bristow, Assistant Director of the Allen Parks and Recreation Department. "We also wanted to prevent disturbing the nesting area as much as we can."
The egrets likely won't leave until after their mating season ends. That could be as late as October.
In many cases, they return to their nesting place the following year. But next spring, Allen officials can launch a preemptive strike, using noise making devices that scare the birds away before the nest.