History of the heron colony in Stanley Park

The earliest known record of these magnificent birds dates back to a 1921 photo by Leonard Frank of a colony near Brockton Point. It is quite likely that the birds inhabited Stanley Park years before this image was captured, too. Even back then, people were fascinated by the great blue herons.

For almost 100 years, herons have called Stanley Park “home”.

Location of the colony 

The location of the colony has changed a few times since 1921. When and why the herons change nesting locations is not fully understood.

Other locations of nesting trees after Brockton Point include:

  • By the aquarium
  • Around Beaver Lake
  • Near the zoo
  • Beach Ave near the Vancouver Park Board offices (current location)

Learn more about the herons and view the heron cam

Black and white photo of herons sitting in a tree in Stanley Park in 1921 - photo by Leonard Frank

Photo by Leonard Frank, Colony near Brockton Point,1921
City of Vancouver Archives

Timeline of when and where the heron colony has lived since 1921

  • 1921

    Records of the Stanley Park heron colony begins

    An article in the Province newspaper shows a tree located between Brockton Point and Lumbermen’s Arch. Herons were said to hatch in May and fledge in August/September. Total nests: 39.

  • 1967

    Heron colony at Beaver Lake

    Limited Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS) data indicates the herons at one time built a new colony at Beaver Lake. CWS records describe 37 nests in a single large spruce tree at Brockton Point in 1967.

  • 1978

    Heron colony moves to the area around the Vancouver Aquarium

    Maximum number of nests recorded was in 1978 (44 nests). Eagle predation is significant at this location.

  • 1980

    Canadian Wildlife Services conducts toxicology studies on eggshells

  • 1999

    Herons abandon zoo area of the park

    Some attributed the zoo abandonment to construction activity, but no formal studies were made about other sources of disturbance or habitat loss.

  • 2001

    Herons move to Park Board Office area near 2099 Beach Ave

  • 2003

    Protective fencing is installed around the nest tree to minimize human disturbances

  • 2010

    Predator guards are installed on nest trees. Racoon predation decreased dramatically.

  • 2015

    Heron cam installed by Park Board on nearby building