See a Live Webcam of Vancouver’s Great Blue Heron Colony

Photo credit: Alan D. Wilson | Wikipedia

Photo credit: Alan D. Wilson | Wikipedia

A new webcam is giving wildlife lovers an intimate, interactive look at Vancouver’s colony of great blue herons.

Mounted on the roof of a nearby apartment building, the Vancouver Park Board Heron Cam focuses in on a cluster of nests built high in the trees next to the tennis courts in Stanley Park.  Dozens of the long-legged birds with bright blue feathers can be seen sitting on nests, perching on branches and even tending to newly laid eggs.

In a unique twists, the webcam is also interactive.  By visiting the official website (http://vancouver.ca/parks-recreation-culture/heron-cam.aspx), viewers can join a queue to control what the camera looks at. It’s possible to zoom in tight on individual nests or select wider angle views to see the whole scene.

Each spring, hundreds of great blue herons, which are classified as a “special concern” species in Canada, return to Vancouver’s Stanley Park as part of their annual migration pattern. Here they perform courtship and mating rituals, build nests twig-by-twig high in the branches of trees, lay eggs and rear their young.  Last year, the birds built 116 nests in Stanley Park and 131 herons were born.

Screenshots from the Heron Cam

Screenshot from the Heron Cam

The trees shown in the webcam, at 2099 Beach Ave. on the edge of Stanley Park, have been used as a nesting site for the past 15 years.  Elsewhere in the park, the herons have been seen for nearly a century, with the first reported colony dating back to 1921.  They generally arrive in late February, hatch their eggs in early April and stick around into the summer until the young can fly.

Screenshot from the Heron Cam

Screenshot from the Heron Cam

The Heron Cam offers a close-up, realtime look at all of the action. Right now, it’s possible to see male herons swooping in with twigs for nests and mothers brooding over light blue eggs. In the weeks to come, viewers can watch as chicks hatch and parents feed the hungry youngsters, all the while fending off threats from eagles and other predators.  Ultimately, the fledgelings begin to flap their wings, gripping tight on branches at first to strengthen their muscles, then taking their first, tentative flights.

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