A Nikon photographer, inspired to craft visual stories through the pictures and videos I capture. ©️ All rights reserved.

Builders of the Sky: Great Blue Herons Nesting in Cuyahoga Valley National Park

After purchasing my 200-500mm Nikkor f5.6 lens few years ago, my very first project was to visit the Great Blue Heron nesting area located in Cuyahoga Valley National Park, just a few miles away from my home. I’ve been a frequent visitor to this place for several years, but always found myself watching these beautiful birds from a distance. With the capabilities of my new lens, I could now get a little closer to their habitat.

If we could scale them 50 to 100 times in size, we’d have Jurassic period flying dinosaurs; every feature of these amazing birds seems like they’re descendants of those large birds.

In early April, we could see them building nests and settling in old ones. By May, we could see baby Blue Herons staying in their nests, and by the end of May, we start to see these babies taking their first flights, usually around the end of June or in July.

They basically colonize a tree, with multiple nests on the same tree, sometimes 20 to 30 nests per tree. At this location, the Cuyahoga River provides them plenty of food, and if you have patience, you can watch them catch fish by standing still; they are famously known as Motionless Hunters!

I’ve seen them catch fish, flying around, and in their classic motionless stance in the water. However, I never really observed or got a chance to see them building their nests. So, this time, my focus was to capture anything that helped me understand their nest-building skills. Here are some pictures of that effort.

With my 200-500mm lens, I got lucky to capture a minute of video of a Blue Heron trying to pick a stick for the nest. The video is a bit shaky since the camera was handheld, and I didn’t anticipate being able to capture this. I think this is a new generation of Blue Herons trying to build a new nest in the trees adjacent to the Cuyahoga River; this is a new colony.

If you have an interest in wildlife and bird watching, this is a must-visit place. There is a dedicated area set up by Summit County Parks. Just search for “Great Blue Heron Viewing Area” on Akron Peninsula Rd in Google Maps. I prefer to go there in the morning as sunlight shines on the trees with nests, and visibility is good.

For those interested in wildlife and nature in Ohio, ohiodnr.gov is your best resource.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *