OLYMPIA - A cooperative project between state and local agencies and the general public means anyone with access to the Internet can get a birds-eye view of great blue herons nesting and rearing their young.
A colony of nesting great blue herons - known as a "heronry" - has been wired with video camera equipment in Kenmore to provide close-up glimpses of the bird's life high in the treetops.
Real-time images of three heron nests can be seen on the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) WildWatch web cam website on the Internet. Web cam images of bald eagles, barn owls, burrowing owls, martins, bats, salmon and seals are also available.
Chuck Gibilisco, WDFW Watchable Wildlife coordinator, said the agency partnered with King County Metropolitan Transit, the King County Sheriff's Department and the King County Kenmore Library to develop the heron cams:
- King County Metropolitan Transit provided the funds to install and operate the heron cams and interpretive signs at the Kenmore Park & Ride lot, which is adjacent the heronry;
- King County Sheriff's Office provides the electricity to power the cameras and bandwith for three of the five camera views. The sheriff's office has also installed a flat screen monitor in its public reception area to broadcast live images of the herons;
- The King County Kenmore Library is providing additional bandwidth for streaming video from one of the heron cams, and has installed a flat-screen monitor in its building for public viewing.
- Local citizens have provided additional funds to produce a video and brochure about living with great blue herons in Washington, which will be available through WDFW later this spring.
Gibilisco said the library is also working with WDFW, local citizens and the Seattle Audubon Society to develop a Great Blue Heron Resource Center as a special section of the Kenmore Library. The center is expected to be open this spring.
"The resource center will serve as a depository for books, scientific publications, videos and other public education and outreach items that focus on the value of great blue herons and their associated wetlands," he said.
Standing nearly four feet tall with a six-foot wingspan, great blue herons are one of the most easily identifiable birds in western Washington. The birds feed along freshwater and saltwater shorelines, snatching a variety of prey with a quick thrust of their dagger-like beak.