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Heron Nest - Start with one stick

Construction begins during late winter and early spring

Every spring, Great Blue Herons build sprawling nests high in trees, in colonies. The male heron finds and brings the sticks, and the female decides what goes where. Learn more about herons at Cornell's All About Birds. During nesting season, view a heron cam. And watch a video by Greg Dodge of the whole nesting season!

Full Transcript


Heron Nest—Start with One Stick
Adapted from a script by Chris Peterson

This is BirdNote.

[Sounds of heron nestlings ML 2215 CAS]

Hear those chicks calling? They’re nestlings at a Great Blue Heron colony. And about this time of year, they begin to test the limits of their nests. [Sounds of a heron colony]

Imagine a structure made out of sticks and twigs, supporting vigorous offspring, 40 feet high in a swaying tree. This is what the adults had to construct during late winter and early spring. [Sounds of a heron colony]

It was the male that found and brought the sticks, and the female who decided what went where. First, she had to wedge a strong stick near the main branch of a large fir, spruce, or cottonwood tree. With that stick in place, and the second and the third, she then wove more flexible twigs into the sturdy base.

When the last of four or five eggs was laid, the pair took turns incubating them for 28 days. The chicks we’re hearing didn’t get eaten by an eagle, hawk, or crow, so they have spent 60 days growing to full adult size. That’s 48 inches, with wings that stretch some six feet wide! [Sounds of heron nestlings]

Ah! Music to a heron parent’s ears. For without blueprints, architects, or engineers, they created the young herons’ first home. [Sounds of the heron colony again]

I’m Mary McCann. Watch a video—sticks, chicks, and all—when you come to our website,


Calls of the Great Blue Heron nestlings provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Recorded by Martha Fischer.
Sound of the Great Blue Heron colony provided by Kessler Productions.
BirdNote’s theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2016 Tune In to      Narrator: Mary McCann.

ID#050905GBHEKPLU  GBHE-02b-2009-05-21-MM-

Sights & Sounds

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