TAYLOR, Texas (KXAN) — Some residents in Taylor are pushing the city to move its annual firework display in Murphy Park after a number of egrets were killed during this year’s Fourth of July show.
Residents who spoke to KXAN said the birds scattered after the fireworks went off, and some of them flew into nearby powerlines.
Dead birds could be seen in the road near the island, as well as in the trees where the birds nest.
“The Taylor Police Department reports that at 9:16 p.m., when the City fireworks display began, the egrets began flying quickly away from the city park and struck four power transformers, which caused a power outage from 4th Street to Circleville,” a city spokesperson said in a statement. “Oncor was notified, and they were able to restore power by approximately 1 a.m. We do not know at this time the number of egrets involved or if they survived the encounter.”
Taylor resident Alison Dito said she was at Murphy Park with her son the night of the fireworks.
“My son called me and said ‘did you see that?'” Dito recalled as she pointed towards the power lines. “He said when the first fireworks went off, there was a massive explosion above our heads, because a bunch of birds flew panicked and hit power lines.”
The park is home to thousands of migratory birds, including egrets. The birds can be seen in the trees and on the island in the middle of the park’s pond.
“I had heard they were doing fireworks here, and I love the egrets. I have loved the egrets since I moved to town,” said Dito. “So, I was like, ‘on top of the egrets?'”
Nee Palacios watcted the fireworks from her father’s business, Good Ol’ Fashioned Oil and Lube on North Main Street. She said she has been watching the fireworks for years, but never saw anything like she did on Monday.
“Out of nowhere, a wave of birds all came at once and blew up the transformer, so the power went out, and it took some time to get the power back up,” said Palacios.
Video below courtesy of Nee Palacios
“Why would we put them in peril?” Dito asked. “It is like this natural thing that happens. I have never lived in a town that has a egret nesting ground before, so I think it is very special and something worth preserving.”
Egrets are one of a number of migratory birds with state and federal protections.
The Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 actually set up agreements with other countries — where these birds travel back and forth — to protect species across borders, but some neighborhoods in Texas have become overrun with these birds.
“We’ve had great success with providing recommendations for tree management and vegetation management,” said Kelly Simon with Texas Parks and Wildlife. “That kind of helps reduce the concentrations in one area or another, and making sure those populations are healthy, and certainly healthy to have among or near people.”
In a statement, Oncor officials confirmed the power outage was due to the wildlife incident.
“Oncor Personnel quickly responded, and the vast majority of impacted customers were restored within an hour,” an Oncor Electric spokesperson said in a statement.