Bird mitigation commences at Brackenridge Park

Published on February 03, 2023

City of San Antonio Parks and Recreation

Efforts aimed to improve wildlife biodiversity, water quality, and park amenity access 

SAN ANTONIO (February 3, 2023) – In an effort to reduce impacts caused by the large colonies of migratory birds at parks, the City of San Antonio has contracted with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and coordinated with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to facilitate necessary habitat modification and deterrent techniques at Brackenridge Park. By minimizing the impacts of large rookeries, these efforts are expected to improve wildlife biodiversity, water quality, and park amenity access. 
Visitors to the park may observe habitat modification and deterrent activities beginning February 3 through the end of March 2023.   
Habitat modification entails removing old nests, clearing underbrush, and dead wood removal to open the tree canopy which will discourage birds from roosting in these areas.  

  • Deterrent techniques are used to disperse birds and may include pyrotechnics, clappers, spotlights, lasers, distress calls, effigies, balloons and drones. 
  • These techniques are legal and in accordance with U.S. Fish & Wildlife guidelines, as well as Texas Parks and Wildlife Code. 

What are the impacts of birds to parks?  
The egret populations and rookery locations have increased and expanded to different areas of the city impacting public amenities at parks and impacting water quality due to bird feces.  Amenities where rookeries exist become unusable for 10 months of the year due to increased bird density. Bird feces cause damage to park amenities including picnic tables, playground equipment, and sidewalks become inaccessible to the public.  
What are the impacts of bird feces to water quality and public health?  
High concentrations of bird fecal bacteria affect water quality and bird rookeries are significant contributors to that pollution. Bird feces may also carry diseases that cause respiratory problems in humans. 

  • The San Antonio River Authority has measured elevated levels of E.coli detected in the San Antonio River at Brackenridge Park due to the high population of birds.   
  • Egrets have been linked to psittacosis-ornithosis agents in Texas populations which is a concern for human health, along with Histoplasma capsulatum fungus which can occur in fecal waste, especially around rivers and water systems.  
  • Breathing problems can occur from these avian diseases in addition to the uric acid produced by bird feces.  
  • Fecal remains from the birds have the potential to increase the nitrogen in the water, which could kill off aquatic life. 

For more information about wildlife management efforts at City parks, please visit the Wildlife Resources page.