Roving Reporter | Bent Oaks Rookery Filling Up Fast by Jeanette Larson

Note the baby between the two adults!
(Photo by Sally Mitchell; used with permission)

At the Parks Board meeting on Monday, April 23, 2018, Claudia Dorn provided an update on the state of the Bent Oaks Rookery. The property at 1501 and 1505 Broadway across from Fulton Beach Road was purchased by the City of Rockport in 2015 to preserve the impressive windswept oaks in part due the areas use as a rookery for nesting egrets, herons, and roseate spoonbills.

Picking up sticks
(Photo by Sally Mitchell; used with permission)

Although a number of trees were lost due to Hurricane Harvey, Dorn reported that the nesting pairs have about doubled over last year. She has been reporting nest counts for a number of years and reported that this year there are about 89 pairs of Great Blue Herons, 121 pairs of Great Egrets, and 50 pairs of Black-crowned Night Herons. Dorn noted that birds are continuing to fly in, seeking places to nest and mates. Nesting is timed so that not all birds are nesting, laying eggs, and having babies at the same time. Twenty nests were seen with eggs and at least one chick has been observed. Especially with the loss of nesting islands in Little Bay, the rookery is important to the preservation of these species.

Claudia Dorn reports on the rookery
Although many of the trees were damaged and nesting material has been a bit scarce, Rick Martinez and parks staff have been bringing in twigs and branches and will be bringing in more this week. Because of this additional nesting material, the nests are good ones and the birds are not losing eggs.

The birds in the Bent Oaks rookery are colonial birds, meaning they nest in colonies for safety in numbers. Unattended eggs and chicks are subject to predators and the colony works together to protect the babies. Signs have been placed on the property asking that people stay back so as not to disturb the birds. Observers can view the birds from the parking lot on Maple Street but are asked not to enter the park area.

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