Our 2022 results show a slight increase in the number of nesting pairs of great blue herons in Maine, the first time since 2015. We are gearing up for our 15th year of monitoring heron colonies with the help of so many AMAZING volunteers. We will also be conducting an aerial survey to bolster our numbers and hopefully find some new colonies. Spring is coming!
We visited the island where our GPS-tagged great blue heron, Mariner, nested this past summer. Even without any herons still using the nests, we used other clues to determine which nests were active.
Meet “Mariner,” the newly GPS-tagged great blue heron from Deer Isle. On June 3rd, Mariner became the 11th great blue heron in Maine to be added to the Heron Tracking Project that began in 2016.
Of the many harbingers of spring, herons returning to their colonies is my favorite! Before we embark on the 14th year of heron colony monitoring, let's first review results from the 2021 volunteer efforts.
Spring is here, and we are patiently waiting for our tagged herons to return from their wintering areas. Here's an update explaining why we haven't seen them yet.
Have you heard of Cornelia, an adult female great blue heron tagged with a GPS transmitter, who nests in Maine and migrates to the Bahamas for the winter? She is one of ten other herons who’ve been equipped with GPS transmitters by Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) to learn more about heron movements, habits, and habitats in Maine and beyond. The project began with the help of a Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund grant and many partnering schools, and is part of MDIFW’s ongoing efforts to understand the status of great blue herons in the state – especially along the coast where their population has declined by 89% since the 1980s.
Despite the many challenges that 2020 placed on the world, the Heron Observation Network’s volunteers didn’t skip a beat. Thankfully, outside is the safest place to be during the pandemic, and thus our usual heron colony monitoring efforts carried on in a similar fashion as in past years. For the twelfth year in a row, volunteers trekked to great blue heron colonies in all corners of the state to collect nesting data that is providing a clearer picture of the population’s status. Sixty-eight volunteers and staff monitored 112 great blue heron colonies.
How about we forget about what’s going on in the crazy world for just a moment and think about the month of June 2019, which is when Heron Observation Network Volunteers conducted most of their colony visits last year.
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.
In what felt like a blink of an eye, we finished up our tenth year of monitoring great blue heron colonies with the help of Heron Observation Network volunteers. These citizen scientists often braved mosquitoes and black flies and hiked through thick swampy forests to get a good view of great blue heron nests, which were often in snags in the middle of a wetland, sometimes in what felt like the middle of nowhere.
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