A hunched, long-legged silhouette stands motionless and silent along a stream or shoreline. Easily identified by its large body, characteristic profile on the ground or in the air, the great blue heron is a common and often mesmerizing sight near many wetlands, forests and estuaries in Washington. In flight the great blue heron slowly beats its 6-foot wingspan, head folded back on shoulders, long legs trailing behind. If startled, it will emit a low-pitched squawk. It feeds both day and night, but is most active before dawn and dusk, sometimes still hunting and waiting for prey to come within striking distance of its long flexible neck and sabre-like bill, or stalking prey in water or a field. The great blue heron is an opportunistic predator that eats small fish, shellfish, insects, reptiles and amphibians and even small mammals and birds.
As of April 2014, the herons have not returned and are not expected to repopulate the Kiwanis site at any time in the near future. Thus, the camera connection will be disabled and equipment will be removed soon. Fortunately however, we have a great selection of pre-recorded videos for you to enjoy, and we have provided links to other interesting sites for great blue heron fans. Please see the link under the gray box that says "Video" near the top right of this page. You will also find a number of sources of information about Great Blue Herons at the bottom of this page.
In 2013, the great blue heron nests shown by our agency cameras were abandoned due to the extent and consequences of repeated attacks by bald eagles on the nesting herons. The Kiwanis heron colony (or heronry) abandoned the nests, eggs and young; and raccoons and crows have consumed all of the remains.
Biologists note that herons react in a variety of ways to disturbances of their colonies, and repeated disturbances can cause them to abandon their nests. Their actions depend on such factors as the stage of the nesting cycle, the severity or frequency of the disturbance, colony size, surrounding habitat, and nearby land uses. Human disturbances are a relatively common cause of colony abandonment, and adult nesting herons do not develop a strong attachment to the nest until young are present.
The herons may disperse for this year, or they may go elsewhere and try again.
For more information on the 2013 event and information regarding public help for the 2014 season recorded by the volunteers from the Heron Habitat Helpers, follow this link: http://www.kplu.org/post/eagles-return-drive-entire-colony-herons-out-kiwanis-ravine
WDFW is relying on your help to document new heron colonies as well as provide updates of annual nesting activity at known sites. Please use our WDFW General Wildlife Observation website and mobile phone application to help us. Learn more about how to document this and other wildlife occurrences here: http://wdfw.wa.gov/viewing/observations/sgcn/
WDFW would like to thank all of the many individuals who have contributed to this project and to the early HeronCam and website.
Appreciation is extended to the Heron Habitat Helpers and Crest Learning Center for providing much of the required funds and equipment. Also thank you to Canopy Conservation, Seattle Parks and Recreation and Olympia Systems and OneNetPlace, Inc. for the installation and streaming video on the heroncam systems that were set up in 2012.
Appreciation is extended to Pam Cahn for her dedicated recordings of the heron's activities, and to Don Norman, a consultant and biologist; Heron Habitat Helpers, a non-profit dedicated to heron outreach and conservation; officials from King County, Seattle Parks and Recreation, the city of Seattle, the City of Kenmore and the Kenmore Police.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife would like to extend a special note of appreciation to Bill Hubbard, Manager of ThermoSight.com (http://www.thermosight.com/) a web-camera and night vision contractor and Corny Canfield and C.Canfield Associates, (360 402-3933) a designer and installer of video systems.