Heron Habitat Helpers


Herons on the Slough

Exclusive Waterway Experience!

photo of two people canoeing  

Heron Habitat Helpers is excited to invite you to join us for Herons on the Slough, a one-of-a-kind adventure on the water! Sign up now for this exclusive canoe tour of Bellevue's beautiful Mercer Slough Nature Park to check out the resident heron rookery.

Bellevue park rangers with specialized great blue heron knowledge will lead this three-hour canoe trip. You'll see and hear how herons and other wildlife contribute to an amazing ecosystem. As we travel into the heart of Mercer Slough Nature Park, a 320-acre wetland, we hope to catch a glimpse of the otters, herons, turtles and other wildlife that call Mercer Slough home.

Each 2-3 person canoe will paddle the entire distance of the slough for four miles (three hours). A park guide, paddling equipment and training/safety talk are all provided. Throughout the paddle our guides will answer your questions and share their rich knowledge of the great blue heron.

Come paddle with us for Herons on the Slough, June 21 or 22 and celebrate Summer Solstice! Participants must be 14 or older. Restroom stops will not be available during the three-hour paddle. The trip begins at 8:45 a.m. from Enatai Beach Park in Bellevue (map). You must arrive in time for the safety talk to participate. HHH members are $20, nonmembers $25.

Space is limited, so reserve your seat for Herons on the Slough today! Book your reservations at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/686838

New Heron Monitor Reports on Local Herons

Debbie Jacobsen and Mike Marsh have become our new Heron Monitors and stepped in to replace Pam Cahn who left after many years of wonderful service. Thank you Pam! Debbie and Mike have brought fresh enthusiasm to the task of monitoring the herons in their new location in Commodore Park on the hill above the Hiram Chittenden Locks, and they have been snapping photos and giving weekly updates on the nesting and mating herons. Current members will be receiving these weekly reports during the nesting season.

  photo map of Commodore Park Rookery
Map of colony location, highlighted in pink.

The Chicks are hatching!

photo of young heron chick by Mike Hamilton
          photo by Mike Hamilton

The chicks are starting to hatch in the heron colony at Commodore Park. The cute little chicks are demanding food, too! Hatched eggs are dropping to the ground.

photo of hatched eggs recently collected


  photo of heron on the nest
photo of heron couple just after mating
photo by Deborah Jacobsen

Once a mate is chosen, and mating occurs, a 5-week process begins. After mating, 10 days pass before the female lays 3-5 eggs. The male and female share incubating duties for approximately 27 days, and then the chicks will hatch.

In this photo, nests are claimed and mates are sought after.

  photo of heron couples occupying their nests
photo by Deborah Jacobsen
photo of 2014 heron nests
photo by Deborah Jacobsen

The 2014 Commodore Park heron colony breeding season began the last week of February. 60 herons began searching for a suitable mate and claiming one of last year's 60+ nests. Later, other herons built more nests as needed.

Here are the herons at the beginning of their season, staging on the dock just east of the locks.   photo of herons staging on a nearby dock

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

  • Enjoy the pleasure and tranquility of weeding with the Restoration Committee folks in one of our Kiwanis Ravine native plant gardens.
  • 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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please send your request to: List Master