Exploring Our School's Very Own Heronry

ArrayOctober 17, 2019 at 2:18 pm

By Danielle D'Auria

Written by Nokomis Regional High School Senior, Mallory Cogswell

On October 9th, our Environmental Studies class at Nokomis Regional High was fortunate enough to have wildlife biologist, Danielle D’Auria, come to our class and talk to us about the Great Blue Heron nests that are located on our school grounds. We took a trip to the Heron Rookery right on our school property, where we were able to tag and measure 33 nesting trees and identify 39 heron nests. Danielle taught us about the migration pattern of one heron that had been tagged from our rookery; Nokomis migrates to the tropical regions in the winter and makes her way back to Maine in the spring. Interestingly, Nokomis goes to the exact same place in Haiti every winter and has returned to the rookery on our school grounds every spring. During our time at the rookery, there were no herons present. We were able to only identify nests, but we were also able to find heron remains allowing us to get a closer look at the anatomy of herons.

Left photo: Teacher, Ashley Clark (far right), with students from Nokomis Regional High, recording GPS coordinates of a nest tree. Right photo: Students measure the DBH of a nest tree.
Left photo: All nests were in tall live white pines. Right photo: A few old nests were also found on the ground.
Left photo: Remains of a young great blue heron that likely died after falling to the ground. Right photo: Eggshells – a heron will keep its nest clean by tossing hatched eggshells out of the nest.

We hope to do more research later in the school year to be able to predict the health of the current habitat on our school grounds and find the potential predators that may be a threat to herons as a whole. A special thanks to Danielle D’Auria for taking time out of her busy schedule to come and allow us to explore the rookery and teaching us more about our local wildlife.