They are called platform nests, Kathy, and both the male and female blue herons build them. Just look at them all. It looks like there might be three on that one branch alone!
As our eyes skim the tops of the cottonwoods we lose count after about 20 nests – some still in the process of having sticks added to them, while others show a head with a large pointed bill protruding over the top – the bird’s one meter plus frame completely hidden.
Across the street the joyful chatter of spotted towhees, American robins and song sparrows fill the air while a series of bubbly chirps, from a pair of circling eagles, floats down from above.
For all the activity going on – the heron’s nesting site, known as a heronry, is quiet – not a sound out of any of the magnificent birds.
Hey, what is that bird doing? The one standing on the branch next to the nest … oh my … look it’s mating!
It is over so fast, eight seconds tops, we didn’t even have time to re-position the camera!
These birds are BIG – their wing span alone measures 180 cm (72 inches) across. The really amazing thing about this is how you can easily miss seeing them – no kidding. Herons stand like a giant statue, in the water, on rocks, along the shore, or up in the trees. You can scan right over top of them … nope – no birds there – as your eyes fly over four heron decorating the bare tree branches. Talk about adding insult to injury, at this time of year (April) you can’t even blame the leaves for your inability to spot these massive birds as the leaves aren’t fully out yet! Perhaps its the bird’s colouring – a light blue grey – that helps them to blend in against the sky or water … whatever it is, you are sure to have one of those ‘awww moments’ when you spot your very first blue heron.
Wild Life Tip:
Nesting Sites – due to development, and the over grooming of our yards, forests and parks, many birds are having a tough time finding a safe, dry place to raise a family. Nest boxes, or nesting shelves, can help. Why not consider adding one, or two, to your yard or townhouse/apartment complex. Chickadee, flicker, and owl boxes (or do it yourself kits) are readily available from your local bird center. (Backyard Bird Center in Port Moody or Wild Birds Unlimited, Vancouver). Raising birds in your backyard is not only interesting and fun but also comes with the added benefit of being the most natural way to control insects and rodents, a win, win situation for everyone!
Stats: 5 birders
Date: Saturday, April 11, 2015
Time: 10 am to 12 noon
Place: field trip to Deer Lake in Burnaby to see the nesting blue herons. Why? Because sometimes you just have to go where the action is! Stoney Creek in Burnaby is a great place to bird but blue herons don’t nest there … yet.
To join us for one of our monthly bird walks email firstname.lastname@example.org to get on a contact list.