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AUSTIN (KXAN) — Mieka Davenport was on her way to her local HEB in Cedar Park Saturday when she spotted two black-bellied whistling ducks in the parking lot.
“There’s no water or anything around, so they were kind of out of place,” Davenport said. “We were curious about what they were doing because they looked a little distressed.”
Davenport is a self-described “bird mad lady,” so she wanted to figure out why the ducks were misbehaving. She noticed a ruined tree with a hole in the center. When she went to the tree to look inside, the ducks started quacking frantically.
“And sure enough, [there was] a whole bunch of eggs – 14, 15 or more eggs,” Davenport said. “I was very concerned because they won’t make it in a parking lot [and] there is no water.
Mieka Davenport discovered about 15 eggs in a tree marked for removal in a HEB parking lot (photo courtesy: Mieka Davenport)
And even more concerning, he said there was a mark on the tree, indicating it would be removed.
Davenport contacted Austin Wildlife Rescue, who advised her to wait a couple more weeks before removing the eggs so they could continue to develop. Hayley Hudnall of Austin Wildlife Rescue confirmed that it’s important to let the eggs hatch with the mother so she can lead them to the water.
Additionally, Davenport reached out to manager HEB, who said he had nothing to do with the tree removal.
“They want to buy these eggs sometime because they have a better survival rate if they are left there for their parents to care for,” she said. “Right now, the steps are just a kind of limbo. Because no one knows the tree will be cut down.”
The black-bellied whistling duck is a year-round resident of Texas, found throughout the state. While they live in other southern US states, Texas is their main breeding ground.
The duck population is stable and since 1983 hunters have been able to kill them legally. However, it is illegal to destroy or tamper with a nest filled with eggs, according to the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918.
KXAN contacted HEB and city officials in Cedar Park. Cedar Park said the tree is on private property and it has no control over the removal. A HEB spokesperson has not yet responded to our request for comment.
Regardless, Davenport remains committed to ensuring the safety of these eggs.
“I’m always trying to save the birds,” she said. “I’ll just have to stand on it to try and make sure they have a chance.”
“It might be illegal to even move the nest,” she said. “In a situation like this, it might not apply… I’m a bit on my own, trying to figure out the best move. If I have to sneak in there at night, we’ll do what we have to do.”