View of the Stanley Park heron colony from the heron cam

Herons have been recorded in Stanley Park since 1921.

The heron cam provides the ultimate close-up view of one of North America's largest urban colonies of Pacific Great Blue Herons, a species at risk.

The colony, located behind Park Board offices in Stanley Park, is home to about 100 active nests which produced 138 fledgling herons in 2016.

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Stanley Park Ecology Society

Join us on heron watch

Over the next few weeks, look to the top of nearby trees—and even apartment buildings—for silhouettes of adult herons. At low tide, scan Vancouver’s beaches and shore lines for the birds hunting in shallow waters. 

The best sign of their return is seeing the birds claiming nests in the colony.

Tweet heron sightings with #HeronWatch

Guess when the herons will return in 2017

Nobody knows exactly when the herons will return—or if this is the year the herons will change location. In 2016, these magnificent birds came back to the colony on February 19.

Park Board staff, along with the Stanley Park Ecology Society monitoring volunteers and staff are eagerly watching for the first signs of the herons returning to their nesting trees.

Tweet your guess with #HeronWatch

See when herons arrived in past years

When the first chicks hatch in early April – watch both parents feed and protect their young from eagle and raccoon attacks. It’s the best nature show in town! 

Watch their courtship and mating rituals, nest building, and egg laying.

What to watch for and how to interpret what you see

Heron behaviour you may see on the heron cam. 



During courtship, the herons bob up and down clapping their bills together and showing off their long skinny chest feathers.


Nest building

Nest building

After the male and female pair up, the male flies back and forth to the nest bringing sticks for the female. The female decides if a stick is good enough. If it is good enough, she carefully weaves it into the growing nest.


Egg laying

Egg laying

The eggs are laid approximately 10 days after copulation. The pair takes turns incubating the eggs.

Generally, the male incubates during the day and the female incubates at night.


Watch the heron parent rearrange the eggs by rotating them and moving them around with their bill then resuming incubation to regulate the temperature of the eggs.




After 28 days, the first fuzzy chicks can be seen and heard. These hatchlings are comical because they have little mohawks, and they sway their necks as if they have no control.


These heron chicks were first of the season, hatching sometime between April 9 and 12, 2016.
In this clip, the heron chicks are seen sparring with each other, which is common chick behaviour. 




The small hatchlings cannot regulate their body temperature, so the parents take turns brooding (sitting on) the young.

To feed the chicks, the parents regurgitate directly into the open beaks of their young. The chicks flap their wings violently and squawk loudly as they fight their siblings for their mushy meals.




As the chicks get larger, they will continue to flap their wings, move around the nest, and start to venture out along branches.

Chicks take their first clumsy flights between branches and nearby trees, and often glide down to the ground before their first true flights.


Stanley Park Ecology SocietyHelp support the heron colony

The Vancouver Park Board, along with our friends at Stanley Park Ecology Society, help sustain the heron population through monitoring, stewardship, and education.

Help Stanley Park Ecology Society protect, monitor, and sustain the Pacific great blue heron colony by adopting a nest.

Adopt a nest

Saw a heron, got questions, or want to learn more? Tweet #HeronWatch

Tweet #HeronWatch

Get a monthly recap of the heron action from the Stanley Park Ecology Society

History of heron colony