The young Great Blue Herons who were rescued in late May following the destruction of their heronry by a tornado, were released on Monday, July 18.
They were released on the shore of Lake Cenaiko at Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park, near the location where several of the surviving adults have relocated.
WRC wishes to thank everyone who worked so hard to ensure the herons had a chance to return to the wild. From the people who rescued them, to the volunteers and staff who cared for them, to the hundreds of people who contributed financially to help offset the cost of more than 20 lbs. of fish the herons consumed every day. Together we did it!
PHIL REFLECTS ON THE HERONS' STORY
On May 22 a tornado cut through the heart of North Minneapolis. The storm caused more than $166 million in damage and left nearly 600 people homeless. Beyond the human tragedy it also wreaked havoc with the environment, damaging more than 2,000 trees and destroying a large heronry on Heron Island near North Mississippi Park.
The destruction of the heronry struck a chord with the public. People left homeless watched as dozens of nesting herons returned looking for their nests and chicks only to find eggs and dead chicks laying on the ground. Members of the public rallied to help officials rescue the few survivors and brought them to us.
At the Center, the chicks were immediately stabilized, beginning the long process to release. After days of hand feeding they graduated to self-feeding, devouring pounds of fish throughout the day.
They then moved to outdoor pens. And then finally, after more than month of being with us, they moved to large outdoor flight cages for their final stage of rehabilitation: Catching larger live fish, dealing with the elements and learning to fly.
Now, 57 days after the tornado they are at last ready to rejoin the wild heron colony. While it’s a relatively small number of heron to be released, it’s a big moment for the community that was damaged by the storm and for the hundreds of bird lovers who annually flocked to the heronry to watch these amazing birds.
Indeed the herons' story is only partly about the second chance they've been given. Fundamentally, this release represents the care and concern held by us all for our environment. We’re releasing hopes and aspirations to be better stewards of our world.
HERONS IN THE NEWS
COVERAGE OF THE RELEASE
KSTP's coverage of final two young herons
Star Tribune's beautiful photos and article about release of last young herons
WRC's YOUTUBE FOOTAGE
ORIGINAL RESCUE CLIPS
Star Tribune article and photos (5.25.11)
KSTP story and news clip (5.24.11)
Learn more about how WRC was able to provide large outdoor flight pens for the herons. Pulse blog post by Phil Jenni