Mountainaire Avian Rescue Society has rescued two young herons in last few weeks

The shorelines along the east coast of Vancouver Island, from Parksville to Campbell River and including the Comox Valley, are home to one of the most easily recognized shorebirds, the great blue heron.

The shorelines along the east coast of Vancouver Island, from Parksville to Campbell River, are home to one of the most easily recognized shorebirds, the great blue heron.

This elegant, graceful bird is also fiercely territorial and a stealthy, patient hunter. Great blue herons can alter their appearance by hunching over to resemble a rock or elongating their bodies and necks to blend into the marshland, virtually disappearing into the reeds.

Standing approximately one metre tall and weighing up to two kilograms, great blues have a 180-centimetre wingspan and can cruise at speeds between 32 and 48 km/h.

Large rounded bodies are supported by long, fragile-looking legs and large, splayed feet that are partially webbed, allowing them to walk across aquatic vegetation.

Habitat for herons includes, shallow shorelines, estuaries, marshes and wetlands that include both fresh and salt water. Their habitat must provide suitable secluded nesting sites where they will congregate in a heronry or rookery.

Graceful yet powerful fliers, great blue heron territory covers about three kilometres; easily recognized in flight, great blue herons fold their necks back and rest their head between their shoulders, their legs trailing behind as they fly with slow, deep wing beats.

Equipped with a very long, sharp beak the heron will either use its beak to stab, or use the beak like a pair of tongs to snap up the prey, which will then be repositioned with a toss of the head to be swallowed head first.

Great blue herons are very social birds, living in communal colonies that are away from humans. However, as Stanley Park in Vancouver shows us, they do adapt to urban areas.

It still amazes me that these gangly creatures choose to build their nest high in treetops, which are not easy to land in and leave their eggs and young at the peril of predators whilst offering little shelter from wind and rain.

In the past few weeks, MARS has rescued two young herons, the first fell from a nest fortunately only its pride was hurt and is recovering after being transferred to another wildlife centre where it is being raised with another healthy orphan. We hope it will soon be returned here to be released into the territory it came from.

The other young heron was less fortunate, having been plucked from the nest by an eagle and taken for a ride before being dropped to the ground in Deep Bay. This heron sustained numerous lacerations from the talons that needed suturing, which was done by intern student Claire Poppe from Ontario.

The heron is thriving, eating well and certainly very feisty.

Our young birds need earthworms and native berries. If you can help, please drop them off at MARS at 6817 Headquarters Rd.

Great blue heron populations are stable in our local areas, but they face many environmental issues as the wetlands decrease and suitable nest sites away from humans are on the decline.

It is important that we stay away from nesting areas and keep dogs away from the shoreline when herons are present, watching or photographing herons from a distance is a rewarding experience.

Visit our website at for more information, or call us at 1-800-304-9968 if you need advice or need to report an injured or orphaned bird or animal.

Sandy Fairfield is the educational co-ordinator for the Mountainaire Avian Rescue Society (MARS). The MARS column appears every second Friday.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The development permit application is for the back of a property at 2522 Dunsmuir Ave. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Privacy, heritage reasons for secondary house denial in Cumberland

Majority of council wants to see something more in line with Camp Road’s character

Local governments such as Cumberland’s are calling for Ottawa to treat opioids as a public health crisis. (Black Press file photo)
Cumberland councillor motivated by family member’s drug death

Council supports resolution for Ottawa to treat narcotics as public health emergency

Comox Valley Nature hosts an online lecture Sunday, April 18, to address the human and scientific perspective on climate change. Photo supplied
Upcoming Comox Valley Nature webinar addresses climate change

Comox Valley Nature hosts an online lecture Sunday, April 18, when Dr.… Continue reading

30 years after becoming part of the YANA family, Angela Furlotte is all grown up and enjoys her three dogs while working and living in the Comox Valley.
YANA founder helps family in need: a historical account

Andrea Postal Special to The Record The first few months of Angela… Continue reading

Photo collage of loved ones lost to substance use and overdose. (Photo courtesy Moms Stop The Harm)
B.C. overdose deaths still rising 5 years after public health emergency declared

Moms Stop the Harm calls on B.C. to provide safe supply in response to deadly illicit drug use

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The following is a list of restaurants offering take-out and patio dining. ADOBE STOCK IMAGE
List of Comox Valley restaurants offering take-out, patio dining options

Restaurants in the Comox Valley continue to adapt to government-imposed restrictions in… Continue reading

Demonstrators at the legislature on April 14 called on the province to decriminalize drug possession and provide widespread access to regulated safe supply across B.C. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)
Rally calls for decriminalization, safe supply on 5th anniversary of overdose emergency declaration

From 2016 to the end of February, 7,072 British Columbians died due to overdose

An AAP will be used to determine if rural residents in the CVRD want a roadside garbage/recycling collection service. File photo
Roadside waste collection proposed in rural areas of Comox Valley

Pending results of the upcoming Alternate Approval Process (AAP), a rural roadside… Continue reading

(Government of Canada)
Liberal MP caught stark naked during House of Commons video conference

William Amos, in Quebec, appeared on the screens of his fellow members of Parliament completely naked

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Feb. 1, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count jumps to 1,168 Wednesday, nearly 400 in hospital

Now 120 coronavirus patients in intensive care, six more deaths

Moss covered branches are seen in the Avatar Old Growth Forest near Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island, B.C. Thursday, Sept. 29, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. blockades aimed at protecting old-growth forests reveal First Nation split

Two Pacheedaht chiefs say they’re ‘concerned about the increasing polarization over forestry activities’ in the territory

Richmond RCMP Chief Superintendent Will Ng said, in March, the force received a stand-out number of seven reports of incidents that appeared to have “racial undertones.” (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
‘Racially motivated’ incidents on the rise in B.C’s 4th largest city: police

Three incidents in Richmond are currently being invested as hate crimes, says RCMP Chief Superintendent Will Ng

Most Read