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March Heron Report

March saw the Commodore Park heronry really swing into action. We have monitored about every 3 days, and the accumulating numbers tell the story.

The numbers of nests occupied has grown from 17 on February 17 to 56 today. A few nests were dis-assembled, probably by herons taking material for their own nests, and several new nests have been built. The net result is that the number of available nests has grown from 54 on February 17 to 57 today. Virtually every nest is occupied, and I saw at least 3 pairs of "wannabe's" standing together on likely looking branches.

On February 23 we saw a mating. It takes 10 days for an egg to form and be laid after mating, but 17 days went by before we saw the first six incubating birds on March 12. The numbers incubating fluctuated around 4 to 6 for the next 9 days, then shot up to 21 on the 21st and increased steadily reaching 33 today.

It takes 27 days for an egg to hatch, so while we can expect a few young to hatch in the first week of April, but it will probably be mid-April before the lullaby (like "yadada-yadada-yadada" repeated endlessly) begins in earnest.

Drones? I believe there was one report of a drone being flown in Commodore. I don't know whether it caused the herons to flush. We have been after Parks to put up more "Drones may not be flown in Seattle Parks" signs, and there are at least 3 displayed around the heronry now. Barb DeCaro is working hard on this.

Eagle attacks? Eagles have already come to the heronry about four times, according to Mike Jones, who is there a lot. When I was there last week, the herons flushed when an eagle came and sat in a nest, but circled around it instead of leaving. The eagle moved to another nest, sat there for perhaps 30 minutes before departing, apparently without taking any eggs. Mike told Debbie and me that when an eagle came early this week and sat in a low nest, 5 herons went after it, jabbing with their beaks, and the eagle left. I would have loved to see that! And maybe, because this eagle was a first or second year bird, it will make an impression on him. The eagle that I saw, however, was an adult. Michael Marsh, Heron Monitor

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