For the 18th consecutive year, Pacific Great Blue herons are now nesting in the colony located at the Park Board offices on Beach Avenue in Stanley Park.
The Vancouver Park Board Heron Cam is now live-streaming with a birds-eye view of one of North America’s largest urban heron colonies until the end of the summer breeding season.
In a release, the park board said that this year, a few new features have been added to the the cam.
“We’ve equipped the high-definition Heron Cam with new features which enable better and longer views of the most productive nests,” the board said. “When night falls and the camera is dark, we will feature a time lapse of the day’s activity in the colony.”
Viewers can login and control the camera for two minutes at a time.
Also new this year will be moderated Facebook Live events, where partners at the Stanley Park Ecology Society (SPES) will answer questions during “dramatic moments” in the life of the colony, such as the birth of the first chicks.
Also for the first time this year, SPES will have an interpretive booth set up in the vicinity of the colony. It will be staffed with a biologist to answer questions from the public about the behavior and life-cycle of the herons.
In the four years since Heron Cam was launched, more than 100,000 viewers have watched these magnificent birds engage in nest building, courtship, egg-laying and brooding chicks while both parents fend off eagle attacks while hungry fledglings compete for food in the nests.
“We’re proud to support the Heron Cam for the fourth year,” said Park Board Chair Stuart Mackinnon. “This live streaming camera supports our Board’s biodiversity agenda, enables our partners to better monitor and protect the colony and helps to build public understanding and support for this species at risk.”
The Pacific Great Blue heron is unique because it does not migrate, noted the park board.
Their natural year-round habitat is the Fraser River delta which is under pressure from urban development, resulting in the loss of feeding and breeding grounds. One-third of great blue herons worldwide live around the Salish Sea and the Stanley Park colony is a “vital part of the south coast heron population.”
The park board said it has put a “robust plan” in place to nsure that renovations by the Stanley Park Brewery and other activities do not disturb the herons through the nesting season.
The plan outlines a series of measures that include no outside work on the Stanley Park Brewery site for the duration of the nesting season. Daily monitoring will be done by Park Board, Stanley Park Ecology Society biologists and an environmental monitor engaged by Stanley Park Brewing.
Residents are also being encouraged to minimize activity in the vicinity of the colony that could cause distress to the birds. Noise, bright lights, kites or helium balloons can all be disruptive.