Researchers looking for herons in North Columbia region

Researchers are asking people to report sightings of great blue herons in the area north of Revelstoke

A great blue heron nesting site. Researchers are looking for them in the North Columbia region.

A great blue heron nesting site. Researchers are looking for them in the North Columbia region.

By Fish & Wildlife Compensation Program

Researchers are asking people to report sightings of great blue herons in the area north of Revelstoke as part of the first survey of the area since 2004, when only one active nesting site was found.

“North of Revelstoke and Golden, the only breeding site we found was near Valemount, although additional heron observations were submitted for Revelstoke Reservoir and Burges James Gadsden Provincial Park,” said Marlene Machmer of Pandion Ecological Research. “We really need the public’s help to identify more breeding sites. We are asking the public to report any heron nest sites, active breeding colonies, or large groups of herons feeding in areas throughout the basin, and especially from McBride to Valemount, and south to Revelstoke and Golden, since we have so little information for this northern region.”

The project is sponsored by the West Kootenay Naturalists’ Association, and is funded by Columbia Basin Trust and the Fish & Wildlife Compensation Program (FWCP).

Heron breeding activity has continued to decline in the southern portion of the Columbia Basin, based on 2016 monitoring results. At three rookeries south of Golden, breeding sites with 21, 15 and seven active nests were abandoned in 2016 due to crow, raven and/or bald eagle harassment and predation. Low rates of reproductive success were recorded at several additional sites. Similar abandonments and low productivity outcomes have become more frequent in recent monitoring years.

Heron habitat in the basin has been significantly impacted by a variety of activities including extensive land development, construction and operation of dams, other human disturbances, as well as eagle and corvid predation.

“The great blue heron has been identified as a species of interest by our regional Board,” says FWCP Columbia Region Manager Crystal Klym. “This work, together with follow-up stewardship efforts to protect important habitat, is a major step forward toward ensuring this iconic, and provincially Blue-listed species, continues to thrive here.”

The heron inventory and stewardship work started in 2016 and is continuing this year. Anyone with heron sightings to report is encouraged to call 250-505-9978, email mmachmer@netidea.com, or submit their sightings online at fwcp.ca.

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