- Chris Belcher
The Brackenridge Park Rookery
Updated: Aug 4, 2022
Visitors to Brackenridge Park notice two things immediately during the spring and summer, the train and the birds along the San Antonio River. The train is a favorite of visitors to ride around the park while listening to the story of the park’s history.
The water birds come to the park to hatch their offspring. The rookery has a mix of hundreds of birds, but the primary occupant of the nests are Cattle Egrets. The City of San Antonio Parks and Recreation Department doesn’t mention the rookery on the Brackenridge Park information page. The Brackenridge Park Conservancy does say the area where the rookery is located is a favorite among bird watchers.
Visitors can see Tri-colored Heron, Little Blue Heron, Snowy Egret, and Black Vultures in addition to the Cattle Egret. Walk into the woods away from the river and visitors might also see Red-Tailed Hawks, Cardinals, and other songbirds.
Brackenridge Park visitors are fortunate to have walking trails, urban wildlife to enjoy, the river to fish in and picnic areas scattered throughout the park to enjoy. They also must endure the smell from the bird manure spread along the bank of the river and covering areas like the children’s playground.
Visitors are forced to walk around or through areas with large amounts of bird droppings. This can make it difficult for some visitors to enjoy a walk along the bank of the river and see the sights.
There’s also an environmental effect of having so many birds gathered in a small space. Rain washes the droppings into the San Antonio River, and it affects is the E. Coli count downstream from the rookery.
The San Antonio River Authority has monitoring stations along the river. The closest station, 12911, to the rookery had a reading of 28,000 most probable number per 100 milliliters for E. Coli bacteria May 4. That number exceeds the safe number of 630 MPN/100mL for primary and secondary recreation contact.
Brackenridge Park is still a great park to visit. When the Cattle Egret, Little Blue Herons, and the other water birds are there choose your picnic area wisely. Enjoy seeing the water birds in the rookery. Enjoy the other sights and sounds Brackenridge has for its visitors.