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 www.wingtips.org 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

CSWM is being asked to reconsider statutory holiday closures for solid waste delivery to the regional landfill. Record file photo
Cumberland also asks for landfill stat closure reconsideration

Council follows Comox’s lead in asking waste board to rethink decision

A youth has been arrested in response to yesterday’s threat directed at Lake Trail Middle School. File photo
Youth arrested in connection with threat directed at Courtenay school

A youth has been arrested after the Comox Valley RCMP and School… Continue reading

These boards were delivered to Brooklyn Elementary before being stolen this fall. Facebook photo
Vandalism damage at Comox Valley schools way up this year

The amount in 2020/21 is already 50 per cent higher than the previous year

Josie Osborne was sworn into the Legislature virtually on Nov. 24. (FACEBOOK PHOTO)
Mid Island-Pacific Rim MLA Josie Osborne named minister of municipal affairs

The position was previously held by Selina Robinson, who is the province’s new finance minister

Breanna Brosko, 18, initiated the Adopt-a-Grandparent program five years ago. Scott Stanfield photo
Program continues to brighten Christmas for Comox Valley seniors

The annual Adopt-a-Grandparent program will continue to brighten the Christmas season for… Continue reading

Freighter anchored off Kin Beach in Chemainus. (Photo by Don Bodger)
MP to host expert panel for virtual town hall on freighter anchorages issue

Residents can participate through MacGregor’s website or Facebook page Dec. 3

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

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Lake Cowichan’s Oliver Finlayson, second from left, and his family — including grandma Marnie Mattice, sister Avery, mom Amie Mattice and dad Blair Finlayson — were all smiles on Nov. 16 when their pool arrived, thanks to lots of fundraising and the generosity of the Cowichan Lake community. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Cowichan Lake community comes together to help family get vital pool

Oliver Finlayson, 9, has Duchenne muscular dystrophy and hydrotherapy is a big help

Penny Hart is emotional outside the Saanich Police Department as she pleads for helpt to find her son Sean Hart last seen Nov. 6 at a health institution in Saanich. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
VIDEO: Mother of missing Saanich man begs public to help find her son

Sean Hart last seen leaving Saanich mental health facility Nov. 6

Alexandre Bissonnette, who pleaded guilty to a mass shooting at a Quebec City mosque, arrives at the courthouse in Quebec City on February 21, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mathieu Belanger - POOL
Court strikes down consecutive life sentences; mosque shooter has prison term cut

The decision was appealed by both the defence and the Crown

Gold medallists in the ice dance, free dance figure skating Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, of Canada, pose during their medals ceremony at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Charlie Riedel
Olympic champions Virtue, Moir and Tewksbury among 114 Order of Canada inductees

Moir and Virtue catapulted to national stardom with their gold-medal performances at the Winter Olympics in 2018

Shoppers line up in front of a shop on Montreal’s Saint-Catherine Street in search of Black Friday deals in Montreal, Friday, Nov. 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Black Friday shopping in a pandemic: COVID-19 closes some stores, sales move online

Eric Morris, head of retail at Google Canada, says e-commerce in Canada has doubled during the pandemic.

Most Read