Friday, July 18, 2008

Miles from the Sound, Yellow-Crowned Night Herons are Nesting in Downtown Mount Vernon

I got an email yesterday around lunchtime from a fomer newspaper colleague of mine, Bill Cary, who told me that yellow-crowned night herons were nesting in downtown Mount Vernon, and asked who I would recommend that he call for information for a story.

I was skeptical, although I didn't tell him. Nesting black-crowned night herons aren't that rare near Long Island Sound, but the only nesting occurrence of yellow-crowneds that I knew of was more than 20 years ago, at Marshlands Conservancy, in Rye, and that nest failed when great-horned owls ate the young. I told Bill about the Marshlands birds and referred him to Tom Burke, who birds at Marshlands almost every day.

Mount Vernon is the most densely populated city in New York State, and it's not on Long Island Sound. So what Bill learned, from Tom and others, is pretty amazing. There's not just one yellow-crowned night heron nest in downtown Mount Vernon, but three -- a rookery, in other words. Bill wrote:

These colorful, shellfish-eating herons have created a rookery to raise their young in three stick nests spread across three adjoining sycamore trees along a residential block of South Fifth Avenue. They've been nesting for about a month, neighbors said yesterday. This is the third year the herons have made a home on the block, Carmen Grant said, but this marks the first year they've had babies.

It's a terrific story, and a reminder that a lot of unexected and fantastic things can happen in the natural world. Read it here.


Blogger Sam said...

That is way cool, Tom. We had a resident one down the street, beautiful bird. My brother has befriended one in coastal Mississippi that will eat bait out of his hand. They are even seen in the Bahamas. Now you say New York? What a wide range for such a beautiful bird.

Have a great weekend. /sam

5:04 PM  
Blogger John said...

I believe that yellow-crowned night-herons have been recorded nesting at the National Zoo in DC from time to time. I haven't seen them nesting there myself, but it is at least believable given the large black-crowned nesting colony.

It's amazing that yellow-crowneds would nest at the Mount Vernon site, though. I wonder how far they have to go to forage.

1:09 PM  

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