Great Blue Herons nest building

April 3, 2017 in Nearby Waterbirds

_W7I0289-001Great Blue Herons begin returning to former breeding colonies to breed in February and March. Nest building begins in March or April. Three to five pale, greenish-blue eggs are incubated for 25-29 days by both sexes. Young first fly at around 60 days of age and leave the nest at 65-90 days, at which time they are similar in size to adults. Great Blue Herons have one brood (clutch) per year, however, they may renest if their first clutch fails early in the season.

Great Blue Herons: nest building in Methuen

March 23, 2017 in Nearby Waterbirds

_W7I7304-001Great Blue Herons nest in colonies, often called rookeries or heronries. Heronries are usually in isolated spots away from potential disturbance and near suitable feeding areas.  Herons that are frequently exposed to human disturbance may be more tolerant. Herons nest in deciduous or evergreen trees, usually near the top on vertical branches. Nests are usually constructed in the tallest trees available, on islands, or in trees with water around the base, presumably to reduce the risk of predation by mammals.  Nests are constructed from branches and twigs gathered from the ground, trees, and old nests. Nests are typically 25-40 inches in diameter and 12 or more inches thick. Heronries, like the one near Nevins Farm MSPCA, may be used for decades; however, herons will relocate their colonies in response to increased predation on eggs and young, declines in food availability, human disturbance, and/or death of trees supporting the nests.

Great Blue Herons: Merrimack River

September 22, 2016 in Nearby Waterbirds

_w7i4655-001A large number of Great Blue Herons are now being seen along the shorelines of the Merrimack River in Lawrence and North Andover.  They have been very active foraging in shallow pools and at the edge of the river shoreline.  These large majestic birds are a joy to watch, especially when they launch into flight just above the water!  This Great Blue was seen this morning in flight, from the landing at North Main St. in North Andover, heading east to join two other Herons.

Great Blue Heron in flight

April 16, 2016 in Nearby Waterbirds

CF2C7168-001The Great Blue Herons are back and very busy in nest building mode in colonies around Essex County.  These herons nest and roost in colonies located in swamps and marshes. The majestic, deliberate flight of the Great Blue Heron is a wonderful sight to behold!

Great Blue Herons: return to Carter Fields!

March 22, 2016 in Nearby Waterbirds

CF2C4203-001The Great Blue Heron, is a slender and elegant water bird with a lavender hue and a long pointed beak, and makes its nest in the tops of dead trees in wetlands.

Recently, there have between 40 and 50 active great blue heron nests in a rookery at Carter Fields, an 85-acre parcel of land with a huge beaver pond in North Andover at the Boxford line.  This year, it looks like we’ll have maybe active 10 nests. The land is owned by the Essex County Greenbelt Association, a nonprofit organization that owns thousands of acres in Essex County for the purpose of preserving natural habitats, the county’s agricultural heritage and scenic landscapes.

Herons typically do not migrate far. Adults will return to their previous nests, fix them up and reuse them to raise a new brood. The females lay between three and seven eggs in late March or early April, and the chicks hatch by May.

Great Blue Heron cruising to the east!

October 20, 2014 in Nearby Waterbirds

Lots of Great Blues along the Merrimack River in Lawrence and North Andover.  They are always majestic flyers and a joy to watch.  This one flew by heading east after passing under the Rt. 495 overpass in Lawrence.  It met up down river with another Great Blue and they had fun chasing after each other…looked like a fun time!

Great Blue Heron Rookery – Methuen

April 10, 2014 in Nearby Waterbirds

Perhaps no wading bird in Massachusetts is more familiar than the graceful and statuesque Great Blue Heron. This species has very adaptable feeding habits, readily taking fish, amphibians, crustaceans, reptiles, and sometimes even small mammals. Its broad menu has made it a common sight at ponds, rivers, lakes, streams, marshes, estuaries, coastal bays, and meadows across the state in recent years. That hasn’t always been the case, however. A century ago, breeding Great Blue Herons were all but absent from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Great Blue Herons – Methuen Rookery

April 1, 2014 in Nearby Waterbirds

The Great Blue Herons nests in large colonies with many other mated pairs. These colonies are usually in forested wetlands or on islands with trees. The herons build large nests of twigs high in the trees to discourage predators, such as raccoons and snakes. The nests are often 3 feet across and almost as tall. The colonies are easily recognized by the many groupings of nests scattered throughout the trees.  The Methuen Rookery is busy with courtship activities and nest building!

Great Blue Herons – West Boxford

April 20, 2012 in Nearby Waterbirds

The Great Blue Herons are busy building their nests at the heron rookery located on the North Andover/West Boxford town line.  Currently, there are about 40 nesting pairs of Great Blue Herons with most females already incubating eggs.  They continue to fortify their nests with new branches secured nearby and transported back to the nest.  Most of the massive stick platform nests are in tall, dead, white pine trees that are surrounded by shallow water below.  The herons spend a great deal of time on nest construction or repair from off season damage.  Besides feeding each other, a great deal of time is spent on preening and hanging out.  Great Blue Herons typically produce clutch sizes of four eggs!

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