Somewhere in the wilds of a South Corvallis neighborhood (two to three blocks from CoHo, as the heron flies) exists a cohousing community consisting of Great Blue Herons. Last summer, as Austin was walking home from downtown, he encountered a geezer who was gazing into a variety of tall evergreens in his yard and remarking about the big bird that kept dropping fish in his yard. The man did not know what kind of bird it was, but from the description, Austin guessed it might be a heron nesting in the man’s tree. This spring, we noticed a large uptick in the number of Great Blue Herons flying over CoHo every day, predominantly from southeast to northwest, or from northwest to southeast. They provided breakfast entertainment during nest building season. One morning I saw six fly over at once.
Austin spotted four nests over the man’s house this year, with ‘activity.’ Wings flapping, heads bobbing, a murderous clamor from the youngsters when a parent arrives, and parents leaving or arriving. There appear to be more than four nests at one location, but activity can only be seen (and heard) in those four, so far. (Mica described the sound as a ‘monster party.’) Nests can also be seen on the west side of the pond behind Crystal Lake Apartments, about a block away. According to a neighbor who lives near those nests, they were there last year, as well. Babies cannot really be seen from this neighbor’s house at this point, but they can be heard fussing for food when a parent arrives. It takes about a month for eggs to hatch, then around 2 months before the chicks fledge. So, feeding hungry babies took up a good part of last summer, according to this neighbor.
Large birds, usually one or two, can be seen in each nest. Are they the babies? Are they adults? One distinguishing feature: only adults have black on top of their heads, which many of the birds in these photos appear to exhibit. We’ll stay tuned and try to document when they disappear from the nest. Herons are supposed to be shy (although they are nesting in a public space), and they do not seem very pleased with my peering at them from the ground. Rather than publicize the location on this blog, if you want a tour of this unique cohousing community, several cohoots know the whereabouts of the heron nests.