What you need to know
The Pacific Great Blue Herons are back for the 23rd consecutive year.
The Pacific Great Blue Herons have returned to the colony at the Park Board office at 2099 Beach Avenue.
In 2022, 90 nests were occupied by a heron family, with approximately 61% of those nests successfully raising fledglings.
Our high-definition Heron Cam takes you inside the nests of one of North America’s largest urban great blue heron colonies from March until the end of the summer breeding season.
Take control of the camera for one minute at a time and zoom into specific nests.
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Watch their courtship and mating rituals, nest building, egg laying, and fending off eagle attacks
What to watch for and how to interpret what you see
During courtship, the herons bob up and down clapping their bills together and showing off their long skinny chest feathers.
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.
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.
Help support the heron colony
These herons are a species at risk in Canada and the Stanley Park colony is a vital part of the south coast population. One-third of great blue herons worldwide live around the Salish Sea.
The 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 External website, opens in new tab
Read SPES’ Stanley Park Heronry Annual Report PDF file (1.7 MB).
Heron Cam supports the Park Board’s Biodiversity Strategy and the Vancouver Bird Strategy.