If you have recently seen any heron nest sites, active breeding colonies, or large groups of herons repeatedly gathering and feeding in the area, then the West Kootenay Naturalists’ Association wants to know.
The group is sponsoring a breeding inventory and habitat assessment of great blue herons, with funding from the Columbia Basin Trust and the Fish & Wildlife Compensation Program (FWCP).
The project is being conducted in the East and West Kootenay, and North Columbia, regions.
“We know it has been tough for breeding herons in many parts of the Basin; at one rookery near Golden, for example, all of the 25+ active nests were abandoned in 2011 due to suspected eagle harassment and predation,” project leader Marlene Machmer of Pandion Ecological Research said in a statement. “It was a similar story in 2013 at 22+ nests near Parsons. Nest disturbance, failures and colony abandonment are common. We want to develop an updated and comprehensive picture of heron breeding activity, success, and habitat use across the Basin, to be followed up with actions to help this species at-risk.”
Sightings reported by the public will be followed-up by Machmer and volunteers across the Basin. These observations will help update heron breeding population estimates and may alert biologists to new breeding and/or overwintering sites that may potentially benefit from habitat protection and/or enhancement.
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 bald eagle predation.
The FWCP is a partnership between BC Hydro, the Province of BC, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, First Nations and Public Stakeholders, to conserve and enhance fish and wildlife impacted by BC Hydro dams.