Santa Rosa’s West Ninth Street egrets are back. Depending on how you look at the situation, it’s either really cool for some or nuisance to others. On the one hand, it’s fairly interesting to watch nature play out in an urban setting, without having to hike 26 miles in to the boonies to see wildlife unfold.

A six year-old boy rode up on his scooter on the sidewalk where I was taking photos of the flock. “You takin’ pictures of the birds mister?” He was looking into the trees as he talked. “Yea, I sure am. Do you know what kind of birds they are?”

“I have no idea and really don’t care.” he paused. “They make noise all night long and go to the bathroom on everything.”

I grinned. “They’re egrets.” I said

“Oh. Well, they stink too.” With that, he rolled away on his scooter, keeping careful watch on the trees and white droppings falling from above.

Great egrets build a nest above West Ninth Street in Santa Rosa, Friday April 30, 2010. (Kent Porter / The Press Democrat) 2010

A wary egret looks for twigs on West Ninth Street in Santa Rosa, Friday April 30, 2010. (Kent Porter / The Press Democrat) 2010

It is messy, the ground is chalky white under the trees. The sounds these egrets make is somewhere between an Ewok and a Jawa from Star Wars. When they are all “talking”, it sounds like a Gremlins convention.

The city has blocked off two lanes to avoid any falling birds from getting run over. Still, the long legged fliers make clumsy landings on the street in search of twigs to build their nests. Several motorists slowed as to not hit them on the road.

You can tell the amateur nest builders from the more experienced ones. The younger birds have that gawky look to them and have trouble picking up and flying with branches longer than three inches.

The Great egrets have huge wings spans, and could probably lift a tree trunk. They soar with ease but have a little trouble sticking a two point landing. If you want to take pictures of the birds, I suggest one thing:

Wear a hat.

(thanks for the correction!)

Trees on West Ninth Street in Santa Rosa are used for nesting by egrets, Friday April 30, 2010. (Kent Porter / The Press Democrat) 2010

-Kent Porter