Last month in Delaware County, naturalist Kim Banks held a special program on great blue herons. Mated pairs of these herons nest very close to one another in what’s called a heronry. Participants then drove from Deer Haven Preserve (one of the county parks) to a nearby Liberty Township preserve known as Smith Preserve at Olentangy Falls. It turns out that there is a sizable heronry there. I returned just last week to see how things were developing.
Smith Preserve offers no trails or facilities. However, visitors to the preserve can view the heronry from the road. Because the nests are some distance from the road, it helps to bring binoculars or a scope. I took the photo below without using a telephoto lens. The heronry is actually visible in this photo, but at this distance the nests just look like dark spots at the tops of the trees on the right.
Below I zoomed in on the heronry which once again looks like dark spots near the very top of the trees. There were more nests than fit in this photo, but the photo does give some idea of how closely the herons nest together.
There is no paved, parking lot. Visitors simply pull off and park parallel to the road.
Zooming in further, I could see the nests in more detail. Some herons were easy to see because they stood on or near their nests. However the other nests that looked empty at first glance typically were occupied by a heron as well, except in this case the heron was hunkered down in its nest, possibly incubating eggs.
If you stop and watch for a while, you’ll see herons flying in and out of the heronry.
If you are using a scope or binoculars, you’ll also be able to watch bonded pairs interacting.
Later on in the nesting season the babies will be large enough to see. At this point it is really interesting to watch the members of a family interacting. I took the photo below at the Pickerington Pond on May 8th during a previous year. This gives you some idea what you have to look forward to. 🙂
- TrekOhio: Heron Rookeries (Heronries) in Ohio — in this article I try to list heronries that the public can view at sites throughout the state.
- TrekOhio: Birding Resources — Our collection of links to websites, articles, maps, and videos related to birding in Ohio. Points to information on birding hotspots, organizations, events, and more.
Smith Preserve at Olentangy Falls is in Delaware County, on Taggart Rd., just south of the intersection of Hyatt Rd. and Taggart Rd. (GPS: 40.213053,-83.057835).