Update on Protection for the Post Point Great Blue Heron Colony

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They’re baaaack! This year’s nesting season is underway at the Post Point Great Blue Heron colony in Fairhaven. With so little foliage on the alder trees right now, it’s a great time to get a good look at these magnificent (if gawky) birds as they painstakingly build nests out of sticks. Typically, the male will deliver the twigs and the female will do the engineering work. The flimsy-looking nests don’t appear capable of holding the weight of two birds and/or up to four offspring, but even though the adult birds look huge, they weigh in at around five pounds each.

The herons, a Washington State Priority Species, lost several nesting trees at Post Point due to windstorms in the past year, so it’s more important than ever to create the largest possible buffer behind and adjacent to the colony. This would require the city to purchase the two remaining undeveloped lots on Shorewood Drive and create the Post Point Great Blue Heron Reserve under the management of the city’s Natural Resources Division.

Here is where we stand: There is still a short-plat subdivision application pending at the planning department. This subdivision would create two building lots adjacent to the colony on the western side. We expect Mayor Fleetwood to open negotiations with the owner to purchase the entire parcel before it’s developed. There is an additional lot to the east, also undeveloped, that the owner has offered to sell to the city. Meanwhile, the city’s contracted wildlife biologist has submitted her updated and much-anticipated 2019 heron colony management plan to the city. One of its many recommendations for the protection and management of the colony is that the city should create a heron reserve. The same recommendation was made back in 2003.

Earlier this week, Mayor Fleetwood promised that he’d not forgotten about creating the reserve, but he has his hands full right now with the city’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak, which is absolutely reasonable. But let us make sure that 2020 is the year the city finally finishes the job of protecting this extraordinary—and singular—wildlife treasure right here in our burgeoning city.

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About Jamie K. Donaldson

Citizen Journalist • Member since Apr 03, 2019

Jamie K. Donaldson is a long-time activist for peace, social justice, and the environment. She was the founder of the Whatcom Peace & Justice Center in downtown Bellingham, and is retired [...]

Comments by Readers

Kit Muehlman

Mar 17, 2020

Hi Jamie 

Thanks for the update.  I walked to the colony on Saturday, March 14, on a cold and seriously windy day.  I could see no herons, but perhaps they were hunkered down in their nests.  I counted 23 nests, and there could be more.  On Monday, March 16, the sun was shining and herons were standing in their nests, mostly in pairs, soaking up the warmth of the sun, I imagine.

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