Monday, June 2, 2008

Great Blue Heron Walk

After two years of watching herons nest near the Hillsboro Library, I decided to organize a Great Blue Heron Week event to show people these and other great birds. Great Blue Heron week is a metro area-wide celebration of urban and suburban wildlife.

I planned a walk around the rookery tree and through the very birdy Dawson Creek Corporate Park. As the event approached, the herons were not at their nests. I hoped that the participants would not be too disappointed if the nests had failed.

On Sunday morning, at least twenty people arrived for the walk. As I feared, we did not see any activity at the nests. Instead, I showed everyone the nests and discussed heron breeding biology.

We walked around the park and spotted a couple of flying herons, as well as Canada geese and mallards tending their fuzzy little young.

We found many more great birds such as American kestrels, black-headed grosbeaks, and cedar waxwings, and everyone was able to get a great view of them in the spotting scope. We stopped by the acorn woodpecker colony, which turned out to be a crowd-pleaser as usual.

We moved on to a nice willow grove, were we found singing Wilson’s warblers, calling willow flycatchers, a begging song sparrow fledgling, and an Anna’s hummingbird on her nest.

At the end of the walk I heard no complaints about lack of heron nesting activity and everyone appeared to have had a great time.

A few minutes later, Sarah, her sister Greta, and Andie the dog met me at the library. We repeated the walk so I could show them all of the cool things I found. We saw the same birds as before plus a blazing male Bullock’s oriole and a female kestrel that carried something to a perch. When we put the scope on it, we could see that she had caught a vole and was starting to eat it from the head down while the unfortunate rodent continued to kick at the air with its hind legs. This was too much for Sarah and Greta to watch, but, being non-eaters of red meat, I feel they are exempt from watching one animal dismantle another.

With one more commitment out of the way, I am now ready to move on to other projects. More on those to come...

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