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Posts Tagged ‘herons’

The following article was originally written for the October 2012 issue of “SWOAM News”, the newsletter of the Small Woodland Owners Association of Maine

Great blue heron nests are often found in snags located in beaver flowages. Photo by Michael Merchant.

Great blue heron nests are often found in snags located in beaver flowages. Photo by Michael Merchant.

Mention the great blue heron and most envision a large bird with long legs and neck knee-deep in water slowly stalking its prey. These wetland icons also rely on trees, both live and dead, for nesting. These magnificent birds build large platform stick nests 8-100 ft up in trees and nest in groups, or colonies. In Maine, colonies occur on coastal and freshwater islands, in beaver flowages, and in upland settings. Their nests are built in mature hardwoods and softwoods and can be in live, dead, or dying trees. Chances are, your property is potential nesting habitat for these prehistoric looking and sounding birds.

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This is what the new HERON sticker looks like!

I am really excited to announce that the Heron Observation Network of Maine (HERON) is partnering with Burly Bird (a Maine-based conservation sticker company) to help raise funds for an important statewide aerial survey for nesting great blue herons scheduled for 2015!

Members of the public can support HERON in its efforts by purchasing a newly released UV-coated vinyl sticker that shows a black and white silhouette of a great blue heron.

The HERON sticker can be placed anywhere, including on car bumpers and windows, house windows to help prevent bird to glass collisions, water bottles, coffee mugs, laptops or bikes.

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Snowy egrets perched in apple trees.

This past May, I had the unique opportunity to assist National Audubon Society (NAS) with a wading bird census on Stratton Island in Saco Bay.  Part of NAS’s Phineas W. Sprague Memorial Sanctuary, this 23-acre island is located 1.5 miles south of Prout’s Neck and is home to an immense diversity of wading birds, waterfowl, seabirds, and songbirds, and is an important stopover for all the above during migration.

In fact, Stratton Island hosts the most diverse wading bird colony in Maine, and is the most northerly U.S. breeding location for a few of these species.  On the north side of the island, great and snowy egrets, black-crowned night-herons, little blue herons, and glossy ibis layer their nests in among the branches of choke cherry and apple trees.

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The following was written and shared by Diane Winn of Avian Haven, one of the largest bird rehabilitation practices in New England.  Located in Freedom, Maine, they have treated over 12,000 birds comprising over 100 species.

Great Blue Heron found injured at Cobbosseecontee Lake. Photo by Steve Allarie

Warden Steve Allarie called on the afternoon of October 24th to give us a heads-up that he was about to attempt a rescue of a Great Blue Heron tangled in fishing line near the north end of Cobbosseecontee Lake.  Responding to a call, Steve had found her standing up, half in and half out of the water, with a significant length of monofilament wrapped around the left wing and leg, and some tissue damage to the wing.  Steve made a quick detour to grab a large kennel, and returned to the site with Warden Dan Christianson.  

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Introduction

Since 2007, the great blue heron (Ardea herodias) has been listed inMaine as a Species of Special Concern.  While this status has no regulatory significance, is does signify possible decline and that more information is necessary to accurately determine the population trend.  Thus, an effort was initiated in 2009 to better track great blue heron colonies and the number of nesting pairs in the state, both on coastal islands and at inland sites. (more…)

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Cattle egret observed feeding on grasshoppers on Bailey Island in Harpswell. (Photo by Jonathan Mays)

Fall is upon us and winter is certainly not far behind.  [Snow was flying as early as Halloween at my house this year!]  As the cold weather moves in, herons typically move out…of Maine, that is.  I say typically because there are definitely stragglers here and there.  But, what’s more interesting is that after herons breed they typically disperse in all directions before heading south for the winter.  In the scientific literature, this is dubbed “nondirectional wandering.”  This is why we can see such rarities as yellow-crowned night-herons and cattle egrets in the fall in various parts of the state.  We don’t currently have either of these species nesting in the state – at least not that I am aware of.  And they certainly are not known to breed north of Maine.

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