Skagit Land Trust logo

Conserving wildlife habitat, agricultural and forest lands, scenic open space, wetlands, and shorelines for the benefit of our community and as a legacy for future generations.

Land Trust News

News Item Image

March Point Heron Camera

The March Point Heron Cameras livestream during nesting season (early March through late July). Watch through the screens below. During the off season, enjoy a selection of recorded video from the heronry.

Click to view the livestreams! Donate now to support the herons.


Skagit Land Trust operates three wildlife cameras high in the canopy of the Trust’s  March Point Conservation Area Heronry property near Anacortes—one of the largest Great Blue Heron colonies in the western United States. Solar powered – these cameras offer a “birds-eye” view of the nesting behavior during the months that the heronry is occupied (approximately Mar-Aug).

Click to watch a presentation on community science efforts at the heronry and an overview of installing the new camera system.

History of the Camera

Skagit Land Trust established the first camera in the heronry in 2006 in cooperation with Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Preserve and in partnership with a Leadership Skagit "Heron Team." The Leadership Skagit team secured donations from several businesses, community groups and individuals. In 2014, after the single camera stopped working, Trust members, local businesses, and regional foundations helped replace the system. Starting in 2022, a new upgraded system featuring three cameras and an expanded and relocated solar power unit was funded by the Trust’s passionate membership to provide a more comprehensive look into the heronry.

About the March Point Heronry

In 1994, Vera and Bud Kinney donated 7 acres of forest between Padilla and Fidalgo Bays to Skagit Land Trust to protect the nesting herons from encroaching development. Additional acquisitions and conservation easements have expanded protection of this important heronry to over 15 acres. Learn more about the March Point Heronry on the property profile page.

Monitoring

Nesting Season Observations

Through the three heron cameras within the colony, teams of observers are able to watch the behavior of the birds from reoccupation of the colony in late February or early March, during courtship and egg laying, heron hatching, and finally young heron fledging and leaving the colony at the end of July. Observers look at nearly 350 nests. They count eggs, chicks, and those hatchlings that survive through fledging. As a large contributor to the gene pool of the Salish Sea Great Blue Heron, this data contributes valuable information about the productivity of the colony.
A small team of observers also watch from outside the heronry, providing additional information not captured through the cameras. Protocols for nesting season observations were developed with the expertise of wildlife biologist, Ann Eissinger who consults on many community science heron projects.

Nest Counts

With the cooperation of neighboring landowners, Skagit Land Trust conducts a nest count in the heronry each year. In 2021, 682 heron nests were counted in this relatively small area. Because Skagit Land Trust does not have access to all neighboring property some heron nests are uncounted. The overall trend, however, shows an increasing number of heron nests in the colony on SLT property and the property to which we have access -- and there are likely to be dozens more nests on the adjacent property to which we do not have access. Combined with information gathered from an active nest tree count shortly after the herons leave the colony each summer, the Trust can determine how many of the nests in the trees were utilized each year. These counts help assess the number of herons that depend on the colony for nesting and reproduction.

Additional Monitoring

Since 2014, volunteers have also observed hunting and foraging behavior of herons through a Forage Area Monitoring project around Padilla Bay. Although Skagit Land Trust does not coordinate this effort, information gathered through all the heron community science projects contributes valuable information on the natural history of Great Blue Heron of the Salish Sea.


Learn About Herons

For information on the biology and natural history of this iconic species, click here to visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
Recent sound recordings also provide an insight into activity at the heronry during nesting season - listen in.

Public Access

Due to the sensitive nature of the heron nesting habitat, the March Point Heronry is closed to public access.

Related Pages