About a month ago my friend Kim and I went to visit a Great Blue Heron Rookery. We were excited to make the trip because we had never seen an active rookery. There were sightings of a possible rookery in Athens but I was never able to confirm, so with directions from a friend, we took a short trip to a rookery about 3 hours away. When we visited, the leaves were on the trees so we had to find ways to take photos between the trees.
The rookery was very noisy with adult Great Blue Herons flying in and out and squawking. Most of the nests appeared to have young Great Blue Herons in them. A few were empty. There were two groups and one seemed to have around 20 nests. It was an amazing sight!
Key facts about Great Blue Heron Rookeries:
The rookery is a spring nesting place for Great Blue Herons. A rookery is often found in wetland areas in large trees such as sycamores. Each nest is a flat platform of sticks lined with moss, pine needles, and other leaf material. Great Blue Herons often return to the same tree until the tree collapses.
There are 50 or more pairs of Great Blue Herons in a rookery, but each nest is independent with a male and female. Each female Great Blue Heron lays 3 to 5 eggs. Usually, only 2 survive due to mortality caused by starvation, falling from nests, predators, or human disturbances. In 28 days they emerge, in 60 days they fly, and in 90 days they become independent.
Rookeries are a form of protection, keeping the young ones safe from predators. There are always adult birds around for protection. If necessary, they can gang up on intruders. Intruders may include raccoons, crows, ravens, and birds of prey.
Great Blue Herons are protected by the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
Check out the photos below of my visit to the Great Blue Heron Rookery.