Migratory Birds

Texas is a major route for migratory birds shuttling between the United States and Canada; while this natural cycle can be beautiful, the springtime event can impact residential, commercial and industrial properties into the fall season.

Migratory birds, such as egrets, herons, and other waterbirds bring challenges such as noise, odor, and significant amounts of excrement covering streets, sidewalks, roofs, and cars on public and private property.

City staff is unable to address any of these issues while the birds are nesting due to their protected status under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. However, there are some actions residents can take before and after the breeding season to help deter the birds from nesting in the area.

Winter (Typically January-March)

Be Alert

  • Familiarize yourself with the different migratory birds found in Texas. Each species has a different breeding period. See pictures below of birds common to this area with basic descriptions along with breeding months.
  • Be on the lookout for "sentry" birds — the first birds to arrive looking for ideal nesting sites for the flock.
  • Find out how your neighborhood plans to distribute news of bird sightings. Report sightings to the City of Bedford by contacting Bedford Animal Control at 817-952-2191.
  • Use a combination of scare tactics BEFORE eggs are laid such as:
    • Use noisemakers, water spray, or shine lights at night
    • Hang “scare-eye” balloons or other moving objects in trees
    • Use long poles, tennis balls, or water hoses to disturb early nesting material
  • Do not harm birds or eggs. Migratory birds are protected by international treaty. Once birds begin sitting on nests, eggs are probably present. You cannot kill, harass, move or disturb the birds during nesting season.

Spring & Summer (Typically March-October)

Nesting Season

  • Once birds begin sitting on nests, eggs are probably present. Do not kill, harass, relocate, move or attempt to scare away the birds by any means during nesting season. These birds are federally protected.

Fall & Winter (Typically October-January)

Prevention of Future Nests (PDF)

  • Remove old and abandoned nests from trees
  • Trim your trees. Remove deadwood, thin tree canopy to allow sunlight between limbs and other trees
  • Be aware and report bird sightings in late winter/early spring to the City of Bedford. They may not seem like a problem at the time, but they can settle anywhere and become a nuisance quickly!

Additional Resources

Cattle EgretNuisance Heronries in Texas (PDF)
Rookery Management Presentation (PDF)
  1. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

    Physical Address
    PO Box 941
    Cedar Hill, TX 75106

    Phone: 972-293-3841

  2. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services

    Physical Address
    500 Gold Avenue
    Albuquerque, NM 87102

    Phone: 703-358-1714

Bird Description Length Wingspan Behavior/Characteristics Breeding Period
Cattle Egret​ - Medium-sized white, compact bird with golden plumes on the head, chest and back during breeding season
- Dagger-like yellow bill and yellow legs
- Younger birds have dark bills and legs​
Approximately 18-22 inches​ Approximately 34-38 inches​ ​- Nest in dense colonies with other species of herons
- Often seen on land looking for food near cattle​
April - October​
​Great Blue Heron ​- Very large, tall, grayish-blue bird with a long "S"-shaped neck and black crown with head plumes
- Long, dagger-like orange-yellow bill and legs
- Younger birds have grey legs and bills​
​Approximately 38-54 inches ​Approximately 66-79 inches - ​Nest with other Great Blue Herons and sometimes alongside other species of wading birds ​Late January – Late August
Great Egret ​- Large, tall, white bird with a long "S"-shaped neck; long, feathery plumes on back and neon green stripe over eyes during breeding
- Long, dagger-like yellow-orange bill and long black legs​
Approximately 37-41 inches Approximately 52-57 inches - Nest in mixed species colonies Early March - August
​Little Blue Heron ​- Smaller, dark to slate blue bird with a dark maroon head and neck
- Pale blue bill with a black tip and long greenish legs
- Younger birds are all white or white with some blue​
Approximately 22-29 inches ​Approximately 39-41 inches ​- Nest in mixed species colonies
- Hunched posture when standing​
Early March – Late July
Snowy Egret ​- Medium, white bird with a long "S"-shaped neck and shaggy plumes on neck and chest
- Long black bill with a yellow base and long black legs with yellow feet
- Younger birds have dull, greenish legs​
Approximately 22-26 inches Approximately 39 inches ​- Often nest with other small herons Early March – Late August
​Yellow-Crowned Night Heron ​- Medium-sized grey, stocky bird with yellow crown, head plumes and white patches on cheeks
- Short grey bill and yellow-orange legs
- Younger birds are brown with white spots
Approximately 21-28 inches ​Approximately 40-46 inches Often sentry birds that can be seen in the area as early as February ​Early March – Mid-July​