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      The Nature Report: Green Island

      Reddish egret

      Green Island is a paradise of birds, and it is peak nesting season.

      Just east of the mouth of the Arroyo Colorado, surrounded by the shallow waters of the Lower Laguna Madre, the 110-acre island is home to thousands of nesting colonial waterbirds. Green Island hosts the nation TMs largest reddish egret colony, and in a good year reddish egret numbers may exceed more than 1,000 adult birds.

      Approximately, 5,000 birds nest on the remote island representing at least a dozen different species from roseate spoonbills to great blue herons. The National Audubon Society has been leasing the island from the state since 1923, and throughout the decades a number of dedicated wardens have protected the nesting birds.

      In the early 1900 TMs, plume hunters slaughtered tens of thousands of birds for feathers to adorn ladies hats.

      While the birds are now protected by law, it's still important to give the island a wide berth. Leroy Overstreet has been the warden on Green Island for the past ten years, and he occasionally has to warn fishermen to steer clear. The problem is if the birds get scared off their nest during the hot part of the day just about two minutes will cook an egg, and it will kill the little birds form the hot sun," Overstreet said. Unfortunately, the continuing drought has prevented the island from being as lush as it normally is. It remains to be seen whether the lack of shady foliage will have an impact on nesting success but it is even more important than ever for fishermen to stay a safe distance from Green Island.