Pacific Great Blue Herons return to Stanley Park for 19th consecutive year

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      It's the first day of spring, and the season is clearly already upon us—flowers are blooming, the mercury’s rising, and the Pacific Great Blue Herons have returned to Stanley Park.

      Now in their 19th consecutive year of nesting near the park’s Beach Avenue entrance, the herons have been inhabiting approximately 40 nests in what has become one of North America’s largest urban heron colonies. 

      And once again, the Vancouver Park Board has set up a live-streaming Heron Cam, which can be used by viewers to zoom in on different nests and observe all sorts of heron behavior.

      “More than 180,000 people have checked out the Heron Cam since it was launched in 2015. It’s amazing to be able to get a bird’s eye view of  the nesting, courtship, mating, nest-building, and egg-laying of these magnificent birds,” said Park Board Chair Stuart Mackinnon.

      “Heron Cam supports engagement by residents with nature in the city as part of our  Biodiversity Strategy and Vancouver Bird Strategy and enables our partner the Stanley Park Ecology Society (SPES) to better monitor and protect the health of the colony.”

      As some of the largest birds often seen in Vancouver, adult herons stand about 60cm tall and have a wingspan of 2m. They weigh approximately 2.5 kg. Females are 5 to 15 per cent smaller than males. Baby chicks weigh 50 grams—about the weight of half a candy bar.

      There are about 4,000 to 5,000 Pacific Great Blue Herons living in Canada, 3,300 of which live around the Salish Sea. The largest concentration is around the Fraser River delta, which serves as their natural year-round habitat, although that area is feeling increasing pressure from human development. About one-third of Pacific Great Blue Herons worldwide live in B.C., and this Stanley Park colony is a vital part of the south coast population.  

      The Heron Cam is a collaborative effort between the Park Board and SPES, who also have an Adopt a Heron Nest Program which supports efforts to educate, monitor and maintain the herons and protect their nesting area in Stanley Park.