Resident Patti Millar captured this image of a Great Blue Heron fishing at McGuire Lake in Salmon Arm with a little ice remaining on the surface of the lake on March 30 of this year. (Photo contributed)

Herons build new colony near Fifth Street

Duplex developers will follow guidelines to protect birds nesting

With a wing span of close to two meters and a call described as a harsh squawk, the presence of Great Blue Herons around Shuswap Lake hasn’t gone unnoticed.

Although herons have lived in the vicinity of Foothill Road near the Mount Ida Cemetery, as well as in North Canoe, their most recent choice of real estate appears to be between the 700 block of Fifth Street SE and Second Street SE.

Some residents in the area have wondered how their new large-winged neighbours will be affected by a multi-family residential development planned nearby at 791 Fifth St. SE.

“They’re not the best neighbour, kind of noisy, they’re not the song bird we wish they were. But they’re beautiful,” remarked David Harriman who lives nearby. “It would be a real shame if they took a nest down in one of the trees or eliminated the buffer zone that’s necessary for them to feel secure enough to procreate.”

Because the heron’s main call sounds like ‘frank,’ says a B.C government fact sheet, the bird is known in some places as ‘Old Frankie.’ As well as the ‘frank’ call, herons can apparently be heard clucking, snapping their beaks or mooing like a calf.

Harriman began watching the herons in March, observing them come home to roost around 5 p.m. with a beak full of fish after a hard day’s work at the lake.

“It’s really neat the way they pull their neck back and put out their legs.”

Related: Starlings, ducks dominate bird count

Related: Foreshore birds delight

Neighbour Glynne Green has also been observing the birds from his property and says he can hear the distinct sounds of baby birds these days.

Brothers Randy and Roderick Reimer have received rezoning approval for their 0.28 hectare parcel at 791 Fifth St. SE, which is designated high density residential in the city’s official community plan. They plan to build eight units in the form of four duplexes. They haven’t gone through the development permit process yet, which guides form and character of the project.

Related: Duplex development goes to hearing

Related: Council on board with 5th Street SE development

Roderick says they’ve been in touch with the city and the federal government regarding the herons, as well as an arborist from the Lower Mainland who is familiar with such situations. He says they will follow the provincial government’s ‘Develop with Care’ environmental guidelines pertaining to herons. The guidelines recommend timing construction carefully, by avoiding any new disturbance between Jan. 15 and Sept. 15 when herons are nesting.

Roderick says the trees housing the nests are not on their property, but they will maintain a prescribed distance until nesting is done.

“Which I think we can quite easily do by structuring how we develop.”

Related link: Shuswap vets care for injured Great Blue Heron

The communications department of the provincial environment ministry responded to inquiries by stating: “Great Blue Herons, their nests and their eggs are protected by the Migratory Birds Convention Act, administered by the federal government. They are also protected by the British Columbia Wildlife Act (S.34) which is administered by the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development.”

Ed McDonald, president of the Shuswap Naturalists Club, says he’s seen the herons carrying branches near Fifth Street. The naturalists used to record herons for the provincial government; he says the birds used to always nest in cottonwoods but have changed to evergreens, probably because of outside pressures. McDonald remembers about 50 herons living near the cemetery on Foothill Road for about 10 years. In 2006, some moved to North Canoe.

“In May we would go there and the shells would be cracking; it was like being in a hail storm. It’s kind of a neat phenomenon. They’re colony nesters, so they get five or six nests really close together.”

According to the environment ministry, the biggest Great Blue Herons are 135 centimetres tall (more than four feet), but weigh only two to three kilograms. They lay two to five eggs, which hatch in about 30 days. They can live to be 17 years or older.


@SalmonArm
marthawickett@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

A Great Blue Heron snatches a small fish from the shallow water of Shuswap Lake off the foreshore trail on July 7, 2017. (Jim Elliot/Salmon Arm Observer)

Just Posted

Kelowna Chamber of Commerce hears cases for and against proportional representation

Official proponent and opponent speak about the pros and cons of changing how we vote provincially

Cirque du Soleil’s Corteo comes to captivate Kelowna

The show premiers Oct. 17 at Prospera Place

Kelowna mayoral candidates spar over support

Tom Dyas claims Colin Basran’s former campaign manger from seven years ago ‘abandoned’ him

WATCH:Tommy Chong has a special message for Kelowna

Chong was meant to attend a legalization day party that has now been rescheduled

Temporary detour on Boucherie Road detour changes

The detour will be Oct. 19 and 20 for paving

Watch it again: Kelowna mayoral candidates square off

Missing the LIVE Kelowna mayoral debate watch now

Jagmeet Singh says marijuana pardons are not enough

Trudeau government will streamline pardon process for Canadians convicted of simple possession of marijuana in the past

BC Ferries begins taking debit in two-month pilot project

Company is giving customers option to use Interac on two-month trial on select vessels

Caregivers banned from smoking, growing cannabis around children-in-care: MCFD

Ministry has limited cannabis use for caregivers, stating it may “pose a risk to children and youth.”

Cheaper strains sell out within minutes on online BC Cannabis Store

Province says new strains will become available in the coming months

Only 40% of B.C. car dealerships have electric cars available: report

Researchers found buyers frustrated at the lack of options

VIDEO: Millionaire Lottery returns to give back and win big

Since 1996, Millionaire Lottery has raised $52 million for the VGH+UBC Hospital Foundation

Baby boomer buba shares heartfelt novel with Okanagan audience

Pauline Daniel will be at Vernon’s Bookland and library Oct. 20

Most Read