Is Anybody Home Yet?

For almost 100 years, herons have called Stanley Park, “home.”  The earliest known record of these magnificent birds dates back to a 1921 photo by Leonard Frank of a colony near Brockton Point.  Nobody knows exactly when the herons will return—or if this is the year the herons abandon the colony and change location.  Last year, these magnificent birds came back on February 19th.  SPES monitoring volunteers and staff, along with our friends at the Park Board, are eagerly watching for the first signs of the herons returning to their nesting trees.

Stanley Park heron colony, 1921 (Photo: Leonard Frank)

Over the next few weeks, look to the top of nearby trees—and even apartment buildings—for silhouettes of adult herons.  At low tide, scan Vancouver’s beaches and shore lines for the birds hunting in shallow waters.  The best sign of their return is seeing the birds claiming nests in the colony.  The Vancouver Park Board’s Heron Cam  is now live; be sure to watch it to see all the activity of the returning herons.  If you do see any of these signs, let us know on twitter using #HeronWatch.
 
The Pacific great blue heron is a species at risk due to habitat loss and population decline.  SPES monitors and volunteers gather data on the number of birds, nests, eggs, and chicks to determine the colony’s productivity and population size.  We also install and maintain metal bands on the trees to protect the herons from predators like raccoons.  You can help support these efforts by adopting a heron nest for the 2017 season.

 

By Greg Hart, Urban Wildlife Programs Coordinator