If you wandered by the rookery recently, you probably noticed that all the underbrush was cleared, and many trees cut down or pruned. All of this happened since this Monday, while over 150 birds were in place on their nests. Though it is certainly true that the weather is ideal for removing dying trees that the spring winds would probably knock down, it is actually illegal for a rookery to be disturbed while it is active. Last year, some trees and shrubbery were also pruned around the same time but only on the rookery’s perimeter. This year, the pruning is more intrusive, the entire rookery is affected, and the birds appear to be quite upset by this.
It is time to let the UTSW grounds people know that we are disturbed by these recent activities, or at the least, that we are watching them. If you agree, please write a polite note stating your concerns to Mr. Orlando Salazar, the Grounds Maintenance Supervisor for the Physical Plant. I have spoken to Mr. Salazar in the past and found him to be receptive to comments about the rookery. For example, he has been very good about letting us set up water troughs around the rookery and leaving them alone. On the other hand, we cannot know what pressures are on him.
You might be surprised to learn this, but there are some who would like to see the rookery replaced by new facilities for people. The rookery was expected to kill itself many years ago, as many rookeries do, especially with a little nudge here and there. Instead, it has survived some quite damaging human disturbances, such as interference with a brook that ran through it, removal of numerous trees to construct tennis courts, etc. But I digress, and that was long ago.
We must not allow damage to happen on our watch. You might start your message to Mr. Salazar by thanking him for his help to (or noninterference with) the Heron and Egret Society and then go on to state your concern about the recent prunings and, if you wish to be firmer about this, about the fact that an illegal activity took place. He needs to hear from us now and then, and not just from those who wish the birds were gone and call him to complain about the smells.