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It was an interesting spring and summer in Edmonds for bird watching. Over the course of the spring of 2010 a pair of Herons raised two chicks successfully in a nest that was built on the Port of Edmonds seawall right in front of Anthony’s Beach Café. The unusual location of the nest, on the Port’s seawall, made for remarkable viewing of daily Heron’s nest life. But the unusual building location for the nest shines a light on a much bigger story.

Gtreat Blue Heron Nest

Long time residents of Edmonds know that our local Great Blue Herons often build nests (collectively known as a rookery) at the Edmonds Marsh. However the resurgence of Bald Eagles nationally and locally has had a surprising impact on the nest choices of the Herons. Bald Eagles near populated areas face dwindling food resources as their habitat shrinks and their own numbers grow.

Large numbers of nesting Great Blue Herons scattered in and around urban areas are now on the Eagles’ menu. And the Herons are now building nests in unusual locations – probably as a response to this increased predation by Bald Eagles.


In mid-April Herons started building nests on the Port of Edmonds seawall. The Migratory Bird Treaty Act allows for the removal of nests without eggs from infrastructure at airports, maritime facilities, and public facilities of various sorts in order to protect infrastructure and public safety. The Port of Edmonds contracts with USDA Wildlife Services for this service when needed, and no birds are harmed by the nest removal.

However, if eggs are laid in the nest at such a site, they may not be disturbed. That is what happened on the Port’s seawall. At least three eggs were laid in the nest, and to the delight of the public the three young Herons proved comic and delightful subjects for observation as they grew and matured. At some point the two larger chicks killed the smallest chick – not a pretty sight – but not an unusual occurrence between Heron siblings.

As the awkward young birds started exploring out of the nest and walking along the seawall many watchers feared for the bird’s safety. By July the surviving pair were often seen on top of the boat sheds begging food from mom, who was content to ignore their loud pleading.

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