Text by Paula Kolmar, 2020 fall class intern, (first appeared on Sept. 28 TXMNCoastal Facebook). Additional waterbird information from Paula Dittrick, TMNCPC blogmaster. Photos from Pearland Parks and Recreation and by Paula Dittrick.
Scouts working on an Eagle Scout project created nesting structures for colonial waterbirds on an island in one of the lakes at the John Hargrove Environmental Complex in Pearland. The birds noticed.
Cullen Ondracek, Pearland natural resources manager, said the rookery structure is a great addition because that island has few trees. No birds nested on the artificial structures this year, but birds commonly rest there, he said.
The John Hargrove Environmental Complex consists of about 2 miles of walking trails around two large retention ponds, a wastewater treatment facility, the Stella Roberts Recycling Center, and the Delores Fenwick Nature Center.
In June 2020, Ondracek counted 446 nesting pairs of nine colonial waterbird species on all of the John Hargrove Environmental Complex islands combined.
“It is a whole lot of birds when you think about how many are actually on these islands: 466 pairs equals 932 adults, 466 pairs each with three or four chicks equals 1,631 total chicks (this is just an estimate, I do not try to count chicks), for a total of about 2,500 birds living on the islands for a few months,” Ondracek said.
The Pearland colony has nine nesting species, Ondracek said, noting the term colonial waterbird only applies to select species that congregate together to nest.
The nine species are Neotropic Cormorant, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Little Blue Heron, Tricolored Heron, Cattle Egret, White Ibis, and Roseate Spoonbill.