[Tweeters] Renton's Black River great blue heron colony -- status

Suzanne Krom szkrom at drizzle.com
Wed Jul 13 14:26:40 PDT 2005

There are approximately 130 nests in Renton's Black River heron colony this year. ~25 - 35 nestlings still remain and 7 fledglings were along the far shore of the pond yesterday. By mid-August, most of these birds will have left Black River for nearby wintering grounds.  


This is a great place to see herons and many other birds, including common yellowthroats, nesting goldfinch, Swainson's thrush, lots of swallows, wood ducks, nesting gadwall, and many others. All of the herons seen there now are chicks except for the 30-second max feeding visits by parents. As soon as a parent comes in with food, their nestlings become raucous and very vocal on their nests. That's the only way you'll know just where the remaining chicks are located. Most are well hidden behind the leaves. It may seem quiet and maybe even devoid of herons when you first arrive but give yourself time there. Everything changes when a parent arrives with food.  


The fledglings are about 8 weeks old and the same size as their parents. The easiest way to tell the difference between the young and their parents is the adults have a white crest while their young have solid grey heads.


If you see a mammal swimming in the pond, it's probably a muskrat or beaver, or maybe even a river otter. They are on constant high alert and will drop below the surface of the water the moment they hear any unusual sound or see even the slightest movement. Use the vegetation as a blind to avoid being seen, if possible. If you do spot one, count yourself as very fortunate. 


Land animals you may see or hear include coyote, red fox, and weasels. Be on the lookout for them, as well. The most you may see of the exceptionally shy red fox is his tail as moves quickly away from you. 


All of the animals at Black River are wild, even the mallards and Canada geese.


For directions and more information, see http://heronsforever.org, or email me at szkrom at drizzle.com.


Wheelchair accessible

The heron viewing area and entire path are wheelchair accessible if you have someone helping along the unpaved path. The unpaved portion is about three blocks round trip if you park by the Black River Riparian Forest sign and use the paved bicycle path for access. At the bottom of the short hill, turn left onto the grassy path and walk the equivalent of ~2 blocks to the viewing area. The path bends to the left (west) and soon after, you are looking across the pond into the nesting trees. 


Current status

Herons Forever is working with Cascade Land Conservancy exploring options to purchase the hillside. At the same time, we are moving forward with our appeal. Anything can still happen and there is some reason for hope. More to come as this unfolds. 



Suzanne Krom, president

Herons Forever 



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