Heron Habitat Helpers
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January Open House a BIG SUCCESS in launching Project HeronWatch

photo of folks checking out the proposed viewing tower  

On Saturday, January 18th, Ballard and Magnolia neighbors gathered at Discovery Park visitor center to get to know their rather secretive neighbor, the Great Blue Heron (GBH). Heron Habitat Helpers (HHH) partnered with Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Seattle Parks and Recreation, The Seattle Green Partnership, Groundswell NW, Friends of North Beach and the Burke Museum to bring awareness of the GBH and its important role in the wildlife ecosystem of these neighborhoods. For many years, Kiwanis Ravine in Magnolia and North Beach in Ballard has been the home to the largest heron colony in the Seattle area; however, many of those living in these areas did not know of their existence or appreciate the magnificence of this graceful bird due to the lack of visibility through the tree canopies during the nesting season from February through August.

The Seattle Department of Neighborhoods (DON) awarded HHH a small and simple grant to improve heron viewing and enhance the awareness of the GBH in 2012. During this period, HHH hired two contractors, Partners in Design of Seattle and IP Video Specialists of Del Mar, California to study the feasibility of creating viewing stations in the visitor centers of Discovery Park and The Hiram M. Chittenden Locks to broadcast heron activities along with interpretation as part of Project HeronWatch. A 3-ft. model was featured at the Open House by Partners in Design demonstrating what the viewing station would look like. Viewers could walk around the "heron tower" and learn about the heron. Other presentations by the participants offered artifacts on loan from the Burke Museum, maps showing the feeding areas, scope of habitat and possible webcam connections from the nests at Commodore Park to the viewing stations.

A crowd of over 85 participants enjoyed the day learning about heron life in the urban area, getting up close to a stuffed GBH and owl, playing habitat bingo, enjoying the kid's activity table and feasting on delicious treats donated by Magnolia's Metropolitan Market and Starbucks Coffee.

Now that more neighbors are aware of the GBH in the Magnolia and Ballard neighborhoods and have shown support of Project HeronWatch, HHH will move forward to bring the viewing towers to visitor centers near them by seeking another grant for implementation.

Behind the Scenes with Herons at the Burke Museum

image of Native American painting depicting the heron as our first fisherman  

Heron Habitat Helpers is excited to offer an exclusive, behind-the-scenes tour of great blue heron artifacts and art at the University of Washington's Burke Museum on February 6, 2014 from 6:00 - 8:30 pm. Rob Faucett, Collections Manager of Ornithology, will take us behind the exhibits, an area normally closed to the public, to view heron and other bird specimens including "study skins," wings, and eggs that have been collected and archived for research and education. It is amazing to view specimens up close and learn from an expert.

After the hands-on tour and discussion, we will search current exhibits for heron representations in art, culture, and archaeology. Be prepared to see herons in a whole new way.

The registration fee is $20 for members, $25 for non-members. This includes on-campus parking, Burke Museum admission fees, the exclusive guided tour, and hopefully a little left over to help heron habitat. Space is limited for this unique event, so sign up now by emailing us at info@heronhelpers.org. We'll take reservations on a first-come basis.

Click here to learn more about Burke Museum's ornithology collection.

  Photo of heron mask

The Heron in Folklore

A Creature Of Unexpected Skills

The heron which those at HHH work so hard to protect is an iconic bird, embodying a curious set of contradictions. Its gangling body seems like a feathery bag of ungainly limbs - yet it fishes with a dexterity, precision and streamlined grace that belies its scruffy appearance. The dangle-legged flight of the heron has an almost comedic awkwardness - yet the still, stoic concentration and swift, skilled strikes of the heron when fishing gives precisely the opposite impression. It is perhaps little wonder that this unique creature has so captured the human imagination over the centuries. Few birds have acquired such a wealth of symbolic significance and folkloric belief. It was believed, for example, that great blue herons and their closely-related old-world counterparts, grey herons, would nibble at the feathers of their breasts when fishing. This, people thought, would produce a luminous powder which the birds sprinkled upon darkened waters to illuminate their prey. In fact, the heron does have powder deposits upon it breast, but it uses these to clean and condition its feathers rather than to light up startled fish. So willing, however, were people to believe strange and wonderful things of this enigmatic bird that the belief persisted right up until the twentieth century, with even reputable naturalists reporting upon it.

For more delightful reading about The Herons in Folklore, please click HERE.

Photo of heron on the hunt by NaJina McEnany
Photo by NaJina McEnany

Local Heron Art

On the weekend of Dec 7th and 8th, the artists of Vashon Island hosted a studio tour to offer their creations to local holiday shoppers. While moving from studio to studio, I happened to notice the remarkable weather vane pictured below.
photo by Hooper Havekotte
Photo by Hooper Havekotte
Unfortunately, the artist who made this beautiful weather vane is unknown.
At the Reimnitz Studio I came upon this work by Gunter Reimnitz. I was stunned by its beauty. Gunter can be found at www.abraxascrow.com or 360-379-3281. sculpture by Gunter Reimnitz
Photo by Hooper Havekotte

Photos from our Heron Gallery

Here are some photos taken a few years back by a local photographer named Mike Hamilton. His photos are available on another website (see www.mikehamilton.biz), but he has graciously given us permission to publish some of his work.
photo of Great Blue Heron by Mike Hamilton © photo of Great Blue Heron by Mike Hamilton ©

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Volunteer Opportunities

  • Public Relations - Be the "go to" person for contacting local publications and community organizations telling them of HHH's accomplishments and activities.
  • Visualize and Staff SeaFair table - We need people to help conceive a display table at the annual Magnolia SeaFair event and to help staff that table.
  • Assist Outreach Committee in trying to improve Seattle's tree ordinance and be a "watchdog" for protecting the herons.
  • Inventory - Plan and conduct a tree inventory in the 500' GBH buffer area.
  • Start a Hospitality Committee to support our events.
  • Join the group of active members and eventually become a Board member.

Contact us at: volunteer@heronhelpers.org

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