Birdwatching will be a treat this year if you live in Vancouver.
This is the eleventh consecutive year the glorious great blue herons have returned to roost in a large colony in Vancouver's famous Stanley Park. They've been residents of the urban sanctuary for over 100 years.
According to conservationists, they can be found in the trees above the Vancouver Park Board's administrative offices and the nearby tennis courts.
Two years ago, an impressive 145 nests and 175 fledglings occupied the area. In 2010, the numbers had fallen to 124 nests and more than 120 fledglings. The drop was a concern for conservationists.
According to the Stanley Park Ecological Society (SPES), continued human development and increased predation risks have led them to become a blue-listed Species at Risk in B.C. This means they're fairly vulnerable but are not Extirpated, Endangered or Threatened.
To protect the birds, the area around their nesting trees is fenced and gated.
The tree barrier discourages predators, like raccoons, from climbing trees to get to the nests. The fence also prevents humans from making any contact with the birds. Additionally, it stops people from getting injured from falling debris produced by the herons, which are nearly a metre tall and have a wing span of about 180 centimetres.
SPES staff say the guards have proven effective, with the exception of a few persistent raccoons.
Despite the noise from the city and other human disturbances it appears, for now, the Blue Heron keeps coming back. SPES staff continually monitor the herons during the ever-important spring season.
They say it's inspiring to see the birds thriving in an urban park and performing courtship rituals to caring for their vulnerable young.
The ongoing SPES monitoring program is a valuable resource. It helps to raise awareness and interest in the great blue heron and Stanley Park. They also have an Adopt-a-Nest program.
For more information about the society and to learn more about the heron colony please visit stanleyparkecology.ca
With files from The Province and Stanley Park Ecology