Bird lovers visiting South Padre Island were left with broken hearts after nests were destroyed by the people who are supposed to be taking care of them- the South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center.
Chuck Lorenz is a self described "birder," making his own flight from Connecticut to Laguna Vista every year, following the birds and taking pictures of them, sometimes twice a day at the South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center.
But this year it was different.
"Terrible, you think somebody would have better sense," said Lorenz. Why didn TMt they do this in December?
His feathers were ruffled over the removal of cattail, where birds make their nests.
"I've walked out here enough to know where the nests are and you can see them." said Lorenz.
An area about the size of an acre used to have tall vegetation which was a refuge for birds.
They now have to find a new place to call home.
The people who were upset said it was the wrong time to do it.
"I have talked to a number of birders that are coming in specifically for the spring migration and they are staying across the street and they were so disgusted they checked out and left," said Lorenz.
Ecotourism is big business for the Rio Grande Valley, bringing in more than $300 million per year according to naturalist Richard Moore.
"These eggs were destroyed and they're gone. They can never be replaced," said Scarlet Colley who runs a dolphin boat tour.
Tourism is her livelihood.
This isn't helping.
"Everyone understands about cattails becoming invasive but its the timing that it was done," said Colley.
Birding and Nature Center Manager Roberta Jackson released this statement saying:
"The removal process has taken longer than U.S. Fish and Wild Life Service anticipated, said Colley. If we follow this procedure in the future I will make sure that it never runs this close to migration. The birding center needs to get out from behind their desks and get out here.
She believes if the people calling the shots were birders, they would make decisions based on the bird's needs and no nests would be destroyed.
According to the bird watchers the nests of two protected birds were ruined.
We tried to confirm that with officials at the SPI Birding and Nature Center but they did not return our calls by news time.
They did send us this statement reading:
"We are at the end of our first cattail removal process, which was approved and monitored by the U.S. Fish and Wild Life Service, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers."
Of course that is not good enough for the bird watchers.