Commodore Park heron habitat flourishing with 55 active nests

The heron habitat at Commodore Park is off to a great start this season, with 55 nests already high in the trees above the Ballard Locks.

“Spring is here, despite the chill and clouds,” Marla Master from Heron Habitat Helpers (HHH) tells My Ballard. “The herons are busy with nest building, mating, and incubating.”

Master says the number of nests is in flux because nests are still being built, and others demolished due to “twig theft” by other nesting herons. This year’s nest count is currently higher than this time last year; in March 2023, the HHH volunteers counted 45 active nests, with 83 by the end of the season.

Master says the average incubation period before hatching is about 27 to 28 days.

“We estimate we’ll hear the rhythmic begging calls of chicks in the next couple of weeks,” Master said in an email. “The chicks will be heard before they can be seen as they are too small to be seen over the large nests.”

On Saturday, April 20, HHH is participating in Bird Lover’s Day, which the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers hosts at the Ballard Locks. HHH will have a booth with information and activities from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in front of the Ballard Locks Visitor Center with telescopes set up at the colony and heron monitors on hand to answer questions.

Photos: Jerry Simmons