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      Nature Report: Green Island Suffers Predator Problem

      The world's largest reddish egret colony is Green Island, a 35-acre swath of thick brush in the Lower Laguna Madre just northeast of Arroyo City. In a good year, the thickly wooded island is home to a breeding population of more than a thousand reddish egrets and hundreds of other colonial waterbirds, but this season the island is eerily silent. The National Audubon Society leases the island from the state of Texas, and it is one of 178 islands protected in Audubon's coastal sanctuaries stretching 600 miles from Louisiana to deep South Texas. Audubon warden Leroy Overstreet has been watching over Green Island since 1997, and he has never seen a year like this. Leroy Overstreet, Audubon Warden, "I don't how to describe it except a catastrophe|this month there should be thousands of little birds hatching and beginning to fledge, and we have got not a single bird. It is heartbreaking." Overstreet points to the track of the culprit he believes responsible. Overstreet, "Well, these are fresh coyote tracks. I believe they were made since the rain this morning at 3 o'clock." Coyotes have been swimming out to the island for the past several years to feast on the nesting birds, and one had 27 baby birds in its stomach. While several coyotes have been trapped or shot, the wily predators have proven to be difficult to eliminate. Birds of prey, particularly the sighting of a Harris's hawk on the island, may have contributed to this year's lack of nesting success as a raptor's presence can force birds to abandon their nest. While nesting islands can suffer boom and bust scenarios for a variety of reasons, Audubon officials are determined to solve the problem on Green Island, and are meeting later this month to develop a strategy to protect the historic nesting site. With your Nature Report I'm Richard Moore