Big Bird in the City

If done carefully, great blue heron habitat and urban development can coexist.

Originally published December 21, 2016

If you’ve ever been to downtown Vancouver’s False Creek, you’ve likely seen them: tall gray-blue birds stalking in the shallows. To see them in the air, they seem impossible, their long bodies and s-curved necks borne aloft on giant wings. They look like they belong in a marsh, away from humans, not in the middle of the big city.

Yet a recent study makes clear what many Vancouverites frequently witness: these tall, stately birds can live among human-built landscapes with relative ease. The bigger takeaway: even as rampant development encroaches on areas in which the heron has traditionally thrived, all is not lost when it comes to this endangered species. But keeping them safe into the future will take careful management.