Every spring and summer Memorial Gardens Park on the UT Southwestern Medical Center campus plays host to a menagerie of egrets and other large wading birds. The birds come to this small oasis of woods near downtown Dallas to build their nests and raise their young. Hundreds of the big, exotic-looking birds participate.

The heron rookery at the UT Southwestern is an wilderness in microcosm, and the wading birds are not the only animals that call this park home. Every wilderness needs a predator, and at the UTSWMC heron rookery that role is played—to a large degree—by a resident population of Feral Cats.

Reportedly there is a sizable number of Feral Cats on this property. We saw several of them as we conducted a brief tour of the park this past weekend. The last one we came across was busying feeding the carcass of what appeared to be a Great Egret.

While there is no way to absolutely certain, I think it is very likely this cat hunted and killed the egret. It is not hard to image a bird so preoccupied with breeding that it lets its guard down long enough for a cat to conduct an ambush. No small feat for the predator, though—by many measures a Great Egret is significantly larger than a house cat.

Feral Cat - Predator

Feral Cat - Predator

Feral Cat - Predator

Feral Cat - Predator

Feral Cat - Predator

feralcat-predator-006

Feral Cat - Predator

Feral Cat - Predator

Feral Cat - Predator

Feral Cat - Predator