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Herons still Arriving

This has been a very different year for the Great Blue Heron Colony at Holland Ponds park. herons started arriving there in the 1st week of March, and have been trickling in ever since. Most years, towards the end of March there is a big surge of returning Herons that quickly fill up all the available nests at the heronry. then the stragglers will fill up the remaining nests and build new ones if needed.

The process has been very different this year. No real big surge of returning Herons. A small group real early in March and then little by little the rest of the existing nests have been filled by returning Herons.

The Great Blue Heron spends it’s winter months south of Michigan. Anywhere from the Carolinas to Florida and South America. Like Salmon, many of the returning Herons have either been here before nesting, or are the youngsters from a previous fledged nest.

This is just one reason why it is so important to protect and existing nesting site like this. It is a place the Herons remember and also where the hatched youngsters from a previous nesting season, will come back to each year, looking to nest in the safety of others in an existing Colony like Holland Ponds.

The herons act very different during this mating and nesting times. They are very skiddish and nervous birds during these months of raising their young. herons are always a bit of a nervous Bird. But this is exaggerated tremendously during nesting time.

It is interesting that they will tolerate what they know will not hurt them. In this case…..Ryan road traffic is something they have become accustomed to and ignore. So is the Gun shots heard from the Detroit Gun Range nearby. But bring in something new, or produce alot of movement and noise and they will abandon the nests. Even if there are young in the nests.

I have watched the entire Colony leave the nests because a group of Fisherman walked along the river’s edge behind the heronry, talking loudly. these Fisherman did not know the nests are ever there and could not see them during the summer when the trees in the rear nesting site are covered with leaves. Signage is needed on the south and east sides of the heronry to warn Fisherman of their approach to a delicate area of nesting Herons. We have mentioned this to Parks & Recreation in Shelby Twp. and hope that very soon something will be done to prevent further disturbances of this unique nesting site.

It takes care and nurturing for a place like this to exist and flourish. We would be happy to advice the Parks & recreation people of some of the things they could do to assist the growth of this very special place. Many people love to visit the park and watch the Herons grow and feed their youngsters through out the summer months. It would be a huge shame to have this 10 year growing Heron Colony, fail for simple reasons that could have been easily and inexpensively corrected.

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These are some recent pictures from Linda Urban, local nature photographer.

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