The purpose of this section of the website is to educate visitors about the laws that apply to the birds in the rookery at the UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, and about the reasons for official recognition of this henonry as a bird sanctuary.
The UT Southwestern Medical Center is an extraordinary site for a rookery.
While many seasoned birdwatchers travel to places like Gatorland in Florida to see a rookery with a variety of species, we have here, near to an interstate highway, and a stone's throw away from downtown Dallas, at least 4000 birds (great egrets, cattle egrets, snowy egrets, little-blue herons, tricolored herons, anhingas, white ibises) in a typical year.
These gregarious nesters all settle down to lay their eggs and raise their young from February to late Summer within an area smaller than four acres. Along with all the difficulties the birds face from the unexpectedly late frosts, violent Spring storms, and intensely hot Summers, there is no big lake or marsh here to support them.
These marvelous birds bring wonder to many ordinary people who would normally never travel to exotic destinations for bird watching. The rookery is so utterly amazing that people are usually shocked to discover that it benefits from no official protection or recognition whatsoever. This rookery exists entirely at the University's whim, which has so far been benign. The only legal restriction that applies to the rookery under Chapter 64 of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Code is that if the university at some point in the future wishes to bulldoze the entire site to make room for buildings, it must do so between October and January (while the birds are away), rather than bulldoze the trees right out from under the nesting birds and their young between February and September.
The easy accesibility of this rookery to a large urban population gives it immense educational value. It is a living testament that the natural world is all around us and not something one should need to seek out on field trips. It is an eloquent reminder of how nature works: how everything is recycled, how one builds one's own dwelling, how little space one needs to live. It brings, right into the midst of this man-made urban world, a sense of proportion and reminds us that man is not above nature, or apart from it, but in it.