More questions to spark your inner scientist

Questions about herons

  1. How does a heron use space differently (or are there differences) over the course of a year (breeding, post-breeding, wintering)?
  2. How many trips to the nest does it take a heron to raise its young?
  3. What is the variation in flight distance exhibited by a heron?
  4. What are UTM coordinates?
  5. Can we estimate the flight speed of a heron?
  6. How much area does a heron use at different phases of the year?
  7. What are the different types of habitats used by herons to feed?
  8. What sort of food is found i

Calculating distance, area, and perimeter

Determine the distance a heron flies from its nesting colony to places it feeds. Using Google Earth, determine the GPS coordinates (in UTMs) of each place it visits, including its nesting colony. Using the distance formula, calculate straight line distances between the locations. If the bird did not fly in a straight line, use the Ruler tool in Google Earth to measure the length of the path. How far does the bird travel before it returns to the colony? How far does it travel in one day? Does it travel in a straight line or does it meander or zigzag before stopping?

Discovering Wetland Habitats

Using a wetland map layer (see resources below), identify the different types of wetland habitats the tagged herons use. Learn how the types differ in water depth, plant composition and structure, aquatic fauna, and other variables. Hypothesize what they use each wetland type for. Determine the relative importance of each type to a heron over the course of a year and during the following periods: nesting, spring and fall migration, and wintering.

Field Observation Skills

Locate a foraging heron. Where would you expect a heron to feed within a 5-mile radius of your school or home? Consider the habitat types and the land uses within and surrounding those habitats. When do you think a heron would be foraging? Visit a few potential foraging locations at different times of the day to see if you find a heron foraging there. Once you find a foraging heron, observe it for at least a half hour. Practice your field observation skills. Remain quiet and well-hidden so that you do not influence its behavior. Record everything the heron does.

Identifying Patterns

Identify patterns in daily or yearly movements of tagged individuals. Using Google Earth, determine where (location, habitat type, distance from colony or roost) they go and when (time of day, time before/after sunrise/sunset, tide height, time of year)? How are the bird's movement patterns similar? If they are different, what may be the reasons for the differences? Suggested resources:


Welcome to the HERON Calendar, where you can find out about public talks and other events related to the Heron Observation Network of Maine!

The following are upcoming presentations that are FREE (unless otherwise noted) and open to the public:


“Tracking Great Blue Herons”

Hosts: Zumbro Valley Audubon Society

Date & Time: Thursday, March 31, 2022, 8-9 pm EST

Place: Online (link which will be available in mid-March)

Cost: Free!