21 March 2019

Pacific Great Blue Herons return to Stanley Park for 19th year

 Pacific Great Blue Heron

More than 180,000 people have checked out the Heron Cam since it was launched in 2015. It’s amazing to be able to get a birds eye view of these magnificent birds.  
Stuart Mackinnon, Park Board Chair

March 20 2019 

The long-legged Pacific Great Blue Herons are nesting again in Stanley Park for the 19th consecutive year!

They began returning March 11 to a colony located at the Park Board offices on Beach Ave. It’s one of North America’s largest urban heron colonies.

The Park Board Heron Cam is again live-streaming with a birds-eye view of 40 nests until the end of the breeding season in August. Viewers can take control of the camera, zooming in on multiple nests, using different angles.

Birds eye view

“More than 180,000 people have checked out the Heron Cam since it was launched in 2015. It’s amazing to be able to get a birds eye view of  the nesting, courtship, mating, nest-building, and egg-laying of these magnificent birds,” said Park Board Chair Stuart Mackinnon.

“HeronCam supports engagement by residents with nature in the city as part of our  Biodiversity Strategy and Vancouver Bird Strategy and enables our partner the Stanley Park Ecology Society to better monitor and protect the health of the colony.”

In 2018, there were 85 active nests and an estimated 98 fledglings raised. This was a higher success rate overall for the colony compared to slightly lower numbers in 2017.

Nest success in 2018

The SPES Stanley Park Herony Annual Report 2018 says last year’s return to normal amounts of nest success is likely due to decreased bald eagle predation. While not necessarily directly related, in Stanley Park there were only two successful bald eagle nests last year compared with four successful nests in 2017.

This year, we will offer a moderated Facebook Live Q and A, where partners at the Stanley Park Ecology Society (SPES) will answer questions about the herons. SPES will set up a weekly in-person interpretation at the colony to answer questions.

The Pacific Great Blue Heron is unique because it does not migrate. Their natural year-round habitat is the Fraser River delta which is under pressure from urban development, resulting in the loss of feeding and breeding grounds. One-third of Great Blue Herons worldwide live around the Salish Sea and the Stanley Park colony is a vital part of the south coast heron population.  

Heron Cam is a collaborative effort between the Park Board and SPES, who have an Adopt a Heron Nest program which supports efforts to educate, monitor and maintain the herons and protect their home in Stanley Park.

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