The best live show in Vancouver this summer isn’t an internationally renowned band, DJ or festival, it’s… birds.
Starting Wednesday, a digital initiative by the Vancouver Park Board is giving bird watchers a close up look at a magnificent and increasingly rare species. A webcam is live-streaming several nests belonging to a colony of Stanley Park Pacific great blue herons.
The heron cam is a remotely-controlled wireless camera mounted on the roof of a building near the board’s office at 2099 Beach Avenue, near English Bay.
In one-minute increments, viewers can control the camera’s view of the nest, including zooming in and out.
“It is a window on the world of these magnificent birds from courtship through egg-laying,” said a spokesperson.
The cameras will capture the courtship between the striking birds, but that’s not all. Expect to see lots of nest building, which can take several weeks as herons collect and place soft materials like moss, lichens and leaves to hold the eggs and young chicks. Next comes the egg-laying, and, of course, the new chicks – which are expected to hatch next month.
The young chicks face a number of predators in their young lives, from rodents and raccoons to ravens, owls and bald eagles.
The non-migratory birds are habituated to humans – and their nests are often a stone’s throw away from the busy seawall – but their population is declining across the rest of the province.
The species are considered at risk, and the webcam is an educational initiative intended to build public support for their conservation.
In its first day of streaming, the herons had more than 7,000 viewers.
The majestic herons have been nesting in the park as far back as 1921, according to the Stanley Park Ecological Society.
If you have a question about the herons you can ask an expert biologist by tweeting with the hashtag #herontalk, or emailing [email protected].