Great Blue Herons Nesting

Great Blue Herons exchanging nesting materialGreat Blue Heron pulling gathering nesting materialThis male Great Blue Heron vis­it­ed a near­by tree where he held on to a limb with his feet, leaned for­ward, grasped a dead branch with his pow­er­ful beak — braced him­self — and pulled the dead branch right off the limb for nest­ing mate­r­i­al.

He flew his car­go back to the tree where his mate was arrang­ing and re-arrang­ing their nest to her lik­ing.

She clear­ly liked this branch and accept­ed it. Where­upon she gave him a lit­tle nuz­zle for his trou­ble, a nuz­zle that made him shiv­er. Pleased, he flew off to get anoth­er branch. (Some human cou­ples have adopt­ed a sim­i­lar behav­ior, per­haps they got it from the Herons?)

male Great Blue Heron with nesting materialGreat Blue Herons mate for life and return to their home nest year after year, rebuild­ing it as need­ed.

These pho­tos were tak­en at the North­ern end of Stowe Lake in Gold­en Gate Park, one of the best places to view these birds in the area, the sec­ond week of March.

great blue herons nuzzlingSince the Herons will be nest­ing and chick-rais­ing until the lat­ter part of May you still have a lit­tle more time to see these large mag­nif­i­cent birds. Mid-morn­ing is a good time as the sun is in the best posi­tion for view­ing.

There is a Heron Fes­ti­val in Clear Lake State Park, Kelseyville, CA every year that is worth the dri­ve.

More infor­ma­tion for you on this at: or call 707) 263‑8030.

Nice peo­ple run this fes­ti­val, lots of fun tours to take, vis­it­ing nest­ing Herons and well as Ospreys. If you are lucky you may see the danc­ing grebes race across the lake, too.

Great Blue Heron landing with nesting material

Wings out­stretched, this Great Blue maneu­vers for a land­ing.

Your com­ments & ques­tions much appre­ci­at­ed

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8 Responses to Great Blue Herons Nesting

  1. Arlene says:

    It is fun­ny to think about the Great Blue Herons in San Rafael. I have for the last cou­ple of years seen them fly in and land at the Marin Civic Cen­ter. I nev­er knew what they were until this year. When one flew over my house I asked friends and fam­i­ly what they thought this huge bird was. No one could tell me. Final­ly in the IJ and your infor­ma­tion brought me to the con­clu­sion they were GBH. Thank you so much.

  2. Bethi Carver says:

    Great pics & I love your web site.
    What kind of cam­era & optics?
    I missed the oppor­tu­ni­ty to video and pho­to­graph a pair of Peri­grine Fal­cons call­ing and fly­ing around due to poor optics.

  3. Gerald Anderson says:

    Thanks for the Heron mate­r­i­al. In retire­ment I now live in Mor­ro Bay, CA, a town with its own state park heron (Great Blue, Green, and Black Crowned Night Herons) rook­ery. Once in San Rafael, CA I watched at Great Blue male sit out­side my win­dow for ~20 min­utes, about 8 feet away. It was in mat­ing plumage so bizarre that I had a hard time believ­ing it was a liv­ing bird. Plumes ter­mi­nat­ing in elab­o­rate spi­rals came from a score of spots. It looked like an exag­ger­at­ed Erte draw­ing. I have nev­er seen such mag­nif­i­cence in life or in pic­tures of herons.

    In my youth in Min­neso­ta I saw many Great Blue Herons every day in a marsh near our house. Dad said the old folks called them “Shy­pokes.”

    • admin says:

      Thanks Ger­ald,
      I need to get down to the Mor­row Bay Rook­ery, though it is prob­a­bly too late in the year for much activ­i­ty. “Shy­pokes,” I will have to remem­ber that. I grew up in Min­neso­ta also, but nev­er saw any GBH’s until in 1972 at the bot­tom of the Grand Canyon. Where was your marsh?

      • Gerald Anderson says:

        Our marsh was on West Arm, Lake Min­neton­ka. Lived at the tip of Fager­ness (Swedish, “beau­ti­ful-point”) and walked the length of the point to the school bus; the last part of that walk was along the marsh (44.9458 – 93.6203, Google maps.)

  4. Pat Futoran says:

    Thank you for shar­ing this won­der­ful bird­ing site. I have gone there week­ly to watch and pho­to­graph the Great Blue Herons — the chicks are get­ting very big now, watched an adult try­ing to get one to fly yes­ter­day. Look­ing for­ward to fur­ther infor­ma­tion about your new sites

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