OAKLAND — A tree on 14th Street toppled over Monday morning, blocking two lanes of downtown traffic and killing at least four adult and two baby black-crowned night herons nesting in the ficus tree.
Oakland’s animal control arrived at 14th and Alice streets about 11:30 a.m. It was unclear what caused the tree to fall about 10 a.m. Animal control workers could be seen rescuing about four other birds of various sizes who survived the estimated 30-foot fall.
The ficus trees surrounding a parking lot to the downtown U.S. Post Office are well-known for housing black-crowned night herons and snowy egrets during nesting season, which usually begins in February.
The Golden Gate Audubon Society is also at the scene and has workers going through the foliage to see if there are any birds that need rescuing and to help trim branches.
“It’s horrifying,” said Judith Smith, 57, who works at the nearby Malonga Axis Dance Company in the 1400 block of Alice Street. “It’s heartbreaking. There are still nests and eggs in there. These birds are in downtown because there’s nowhere else for them to go. It makes me sick.”
The real estate has been an ideal spot for the birds for years, given the proximity to the estuary and Lake Merritt, where the herons and egrets find their food.
The birds that lived “were chirping a lot, and they looked dazed,” said Ryan Schultz, who lives in the area. “It’s sad. These trees have been here forever with these birds.”
Authorities have closed 14th Street in both directions between Alice and Jackson streets
In May 2014, several birds were injured…