Green Heron Nestling Gets By with a Little Help From Its Friends

by Stephanie Herman, Wildlife Care Center Manager

On July 19, Sally Nicoletti was walking through the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden when she noticed a young Green Heron on the ground. As a volunteer at the garden, Sally had been keeping an eye on the nest of four baby herons and knew the bird was too young to be on the ground. 

“It wasn’t flying yet, and it was clear it couldn’t make it up [to the nest],” she said. Unable to reach the nest or find someone with a ladder, she brought the bird to Bird Alliance of Oregon’s Wildlife Care Center.

Volunteer renesting a Green Heron nestling
Volunteer renesting a Green Heron nestling

At the WCC, we always view admissions of healthy babies with mixed feelings. We’re grateful for their health, but we know that most of the time they still have families out in the wild who will do a better job caring for them than we ever could. So once the Wildlife Care Center staff had examined the bird to confirm it was healthy, we started looking for a way to reunite the family.

Barb Clark, one of our volunteers, agreed to pick up a ladder and return the bird to the nest. Sally met Barb at the garden to show her the exact tree the bird fell from. “It’s a joint effort,” Sally said. How right she is! 

Re-nestings like these are cooperative efforts that go beyond the Good Samaritan who found the animal and the volunteer who climbed the ladder. The WCC runs primarily thanks to community members who volunteer their time to feed our patients, clean enclosures, coordinate releases, pick up injured animals, and answer questions from the public. And it’s only possible to offer this free service to the community because of the donors and members who support Bird Alliance of Oregon. 

The re-nesting went off without a hitch. Barb set the ladder against the tree, pausing to ensure she caused as little disruption as possible to the remaining three siblings. She took the young bird out of the box and placed it on a branch that led back to the nest. After about 60 seconds, as the baby became acclimated with its surroundings, it moved along the branch and back to the nest. Within minutes, the four babies were back to exploring the branches and playing together. And since then, the young heron’s parents have continued to care for the little one. 

We’re so grateful to everyone, from Good Samaritans to volunteers to donors, for ensuring that stories like these can have a happy ending.

Every year the Wildlife Care Center treats 3,000 injured or orphaned native animals. If you would like to make a donation to support our wildlife rehabilitation work at the Wildlife Care Center, click here.