Counting great blue heron nests
Crow’s Nest Peninsula, Stafford County
The annual great blue heron nest count took place late January at NVCT’s Heronry, adjacent to the Crow’s Nest Natural Area Preserve in Stafford County. The good news is that the nest count is up from last year, from 226 to 260 nests. Each year NVCT, Stafford County, and the Department of Conservation and Recreation join together to count the nests in the winter when the giant nests are easily visible high up in the trees. Timing is important because when the birds start to lay their eggs in March they are vulnerable to disruption by human presence.
This year the count was done both from the ground and from a drone above the treeline. The annual survey, conducted since 2005, provides data on individual nests and documents the effects of weather events such as the 2012 derecho. This year the team observed significant tree damage from the emerald ash borer within the Heronry and Preserve. Read a Washington Post story about a previous visit to the Heronry.