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Great Blue Herons Renovating & Building Nests

Great Blue Herons are colonial nesters – up to 500 platform nests or more may be built in dead snags and trees bordering or in swamps, ponds and woodlands. Where trees are not available, they will nest on the ground (this usually occurs only on predator-free islands).

The nests of Great Blue Herons are built of sticks, usually gathered by the males from nearby trees and shrubs as well as the ground.  The male heron flies with a stick in his bill back to the nest (see photo) where the female awaits and presents her with the stick. She takes it from his beak, pokes it into the nest and eventually lines the nest with pine needles, moss, reeds, grasses and small twigs.  Although nest building and repair is at its height right now, nesting material is added throughout the nesting period.

Nests are often re-used for many years, but not necessarily by the same pair of herons. While nest fidelity is not strong, Great Blue Herons do tend to show a preference for the species of tree in a colony in which they build their nest. Nesting colonies can be used for just a few years, or for as many as 70.

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6 responses

  1. Alice

    The amazing world of birds. Colony nesting ….like a big camping.

    April 22, 2022 at 9:21 am

  2. Leslie English

    what a coincidence! I just wrote this description:

    At this dead-end in southern New Hampshire: we head into the woods, in 20 minutes arriving at a swamp. Dusk descends, gradually the moon rises. A Great Blue Heron soars in, landing on one of the dead tree-trunks in an enormous nest high above the waters.
    Several more arrive, landing on their nests, platforms of sticks, moss, pine needles, leaves. A clackety-clacking of hungry beaks. One adult spreads its wings against the full moon. The noise becomes deafening, a chorus of creaky old washing machines going full speed.

    April 22, 2022 at 9:32 am

  3. These Birds Truly look prehistoric! I was jogging in my neighborhood one day, Bight Hills Estates in Franklin, MA is significantly elevated! However the Marshes associated with Charles River are quite much downhill! I didn’t even know we had Blue Herons?! Back to the Jogging, one flew over my head probably only 15-20 ft. overhead, holy mackerel quite spectacular! 🙂 ❤

    April 22, 2022 at 2:07 pm

  4. Terri Morgan

    I love this photo. It is one of my favorites of all your posts. Terri Morgan


    April 22, 2022 at 8:44 pm

  5. Susan Holland

    Fantastic photo!!!!

    April 23, 2022 at 12:03 am

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