One of the things I love about Stanley Park is that it’s a natural oasis on the tip of a bustling metropolitan area. Taking a few steps under the canopy of evergreens, city sounds fade while the tune of rushing creek water amplifies. Raccoons prowl by the lagoon, bushy-tailed squirrels greet visitors, and harbour seals poke their heads up along the Sea Wall. Then there’s the blue heron.
It’s a staple of any Stanley Park or Sea Wall trek, and often spotted at water’s edge. Earlier this month a colony of pacific blue herons returned to their Stanley Park nesting site for the 12th year in a row.
The Park Board has setup a fence around the colony to protect the birds and to also protect the public from any falling debris. Last season the bird occupied 110 nests and produced more than 100 fledglings. That number was down from previous years but it’s great to see them back.
The Pacific great blue heron is considered a blue-listed species-at-risk in British Columbia. An average bird stands about one metre tall, has a wing span of 180 cm and can live as long as 17 years. Reports of herons nesting in Stanley Park were first documented in the mid-1920s and although the herons have been regular inhabitants of the park, they have tended to migrate from one area of the park to another over the years. Predators include bald eagles, raccoons and owls. [Park Board]
The blue heron colony is located in the trees across from the Park Board’s offices and the tennis courts in Stanley Park, toward the English Bay side.
The Stanley Park Ecology Society has more information available online as well as an Adopt-A-Nest program to help protect the colony.