The Herons Are Back at Stanley Park

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Springtime in Vancouver marks the return of the iconic Pacific Great Blue Heron colony. For their 23rd consecutive year, the 64-strong heron colony has made its way high above Park Lane in Stanley Park to raise the newest generation.

Heron Nestlings
Photo: Greg Hart / SPES.

Herons in Stanley Park

Last year the colony brought approximately 90 new heron chicks into the world, overcoming persistent eagle raids and a late nesting season, due to more severe winter weather. Throughout these challenges, this heron colony has proven to be above all else, resilient. With 80 per cent of British Columbia’s great blue heron population found in and around the Fraser River, the productivity of this heronry has signification implications for the viability of the whole subspecies.

Now in its eighth year, the Heron Cam provides the ultimate close-up view of this remarkable species as they go about their daily rituals, including courtship and mating, nest building, egg laying, and of course, hatching! Viewers can access a birds-eye view of the 40 nests and even take control of the camera by zooming in on multiple nests, using different angles. Witness the chicks take their first tentative steps by viewing the Stanley Park Heron Cam online.

Heron Coexistence

To ensure herons are given space to nest and raise their young peacefully, between mid-March to mid-July, visitors should:

  • Observe herons from outside of fenced areas
  • Avoid making loud noises of playing amplified music within 30 metres of the colony
  • Keep dogs on-leash
  • Refrain from flying drones; drones are not allowed in parks without a permit, and should strictly not be flown around nesting birds
  • Report a fallen or injured chick via the Van311 app or by calling 311; please do not handle any injured wildlife
Stanley Park Heron Cam
Stanley Park Heron Cam

Pacific Great Blue Herons were first documented in Stanley Park in 1921. Since then, the colony has changed nesting locations several times before settling in its current location in 2001. Vancouver is proudly one of North America’s largest urban heron colonies.

Pacific Great Blue Herons are federally protected and classified as of ‘special concern’ in British Columbia. The population of these herons has declined steadily since the 1980s as a result of nesting failure, eagle attacks, human disturbance and habitat loss. In Canada, there are around 4-5,000 nesting adults, with the majority living around the Salish Sea. Pacific Great Blue Herons are also unique in that they do not migrate as most great blue herons do.

Working in conjunction with the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation and the Canadian Wildlife Service, the Stanley Park Ecology Society (“SPES“) has been supporting herons in this urban environment and monitoring the heronry in Stanley Park since 2004. 

Learn more about the history of the Pacific Great Blue Herons at Stanley Park here or by visiting the Vancouver Parks and Recreation website. To keep up to date with the herons activities and how to support the Stanley Park Ecology Society, visit them online.

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