The Commodore Park heron colony is alive and well this season, with 73 nests currently high in the trees above the Ballard Locks.
Marla Master from the Heron Habitat Helpers (HHH) says the nesting season has been a huge success this season, with the first chicks hatching about five weeks ago.
“With two adult herons and an average of two chicks per nest means there is a lot of action!” Master tells My Ballard.
“You can hear the constant chatter of heron chicks. Adults can be seen flying in and out—each pair taking turns to catch and bring food to their hungry, growing chicks. The first chicks that hatched about five weeks ago are quite large and can be seen walking around the nest, tussling with siblings over food, and flapping their wings to strengthen them for eventual flight.”
Master says HHH will be hosting a Heron Chick Birthday Celebration on Saturday, June 3 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., free and open to the public. They’ll have a few telescopes set up to allow people to see the herons close-up with volunteers on hand to answer questions.
“It’s a great opportunity to learn about great blue herons—and appreciate how fortunate we are to have a colony so close by. The nesting herons are an integral part of the ecosystem near the Ballard Locks, and there is mounting evidence that bird-watching is beneficial to the well-being of humans,” Master says.
Overall, the colony is about the same size as last year. However, Master says the colony has been growing steadily since 2013 when volunteers observed 55 nests. Last year, 126 chicks fledged, which is an uptick from the 114 that fledged in 2021.
Photos: Beth Shepherd Photography