Stanley Park Great Blue Heron Colony 2009 Report
Sunday, January 10 2010 @ 01:43 AM EST
Contributed by: terrytvgal
The non-migratory Pacific great blue heron (Ardea herodias fannini) is one of the most recognizable birds in the Lower Mainland and is a symbol of the Pacific northwest. They feed with the tides on smelt and sculpin and wade through wetlands in search of frogs and sticklebacks. These large birds are a Species at Risk in BC because they are in competition for waterfront habitat with humans and their small population is shrinking with increased pressure from predators.
The Stanley Park great blue heron breeding colony has become a destination for bird watchers, photographers, tourists, and local residents. It is a marvel of nature to see these large, long-legged birds navigating their way through massive tree branches. Their spectacular courtship rituals and raucous feeding activity draws much attention from passers by and on any given spring day you may see several groups of people looking up at the trees in amazement. This colony provides a rare example of how this sensitive species can coexist successfully with humans in the urban environment. These birds have nested in the Park for at least 100 years, but in 2001 they established the current colony on Beach Avenue amidst tennis courts, apartment buildings and parking lots. Usually this species is highly sensitive to human disturbances, but in this case the birds have become habituated to the noise of the city.
The Stanley Park Heron Monitoring Program
Estimating population trends is necessary to measure the success of recovery efforts in this species. The colony in Stanley Park has been monitored by the Stanley Park Ecology Society (SPES) in cooperation with the Canadian Wildlife Service and the BC Ministry of Environment since 2004. . The 2009 season began with a late start, likely due to the late onset of spring and ended with the highest recorded nest failures due to increased predation from raccoons. This colony has been one of the most productive in the Lower Mainland in the past, and so it is hoped that the herons will return to the colony in 2010 to have a more successful year.
To read the entire report please use this link: