This is a history of the heron platforms at Almond Marsh. Click here to see a brochure. Click here to see a information on and photos of the rookery nesting stands.
Each year we welcome back the herons to Almond Marsh with a cheese and crackers evening. Click to see photos from 2013 and 2014 which was very well attended despite the rain. See our Photo Gallery for more photographs from "Welcome Back Herons" events.
On October 25th Jack Nowak, Glen Moss, Paul Geiselhart and Don Wilson installed more platforms on the island to replace some of the ones that have been lost. They used a canoe to get the materials out to the island. See our photo gallery for some photos from the day taken by Jack Nowak.
Summary of 2015:
February 2015: We got the okay from the Forest Preserve to put up 6 more tree platforms and one Tripod that was donated. When the ice was safe enough to walk on, 5 volunteers, Don Wilson, Glen Moss, Jim Schuler, Paul Geiselhart, and myself, with supplies, put up 6- 2x4 tree platforms on various dead Cottonwood trees, and one tripod on the island.
March2015: Herons returning.
June 2015: Could see the young in the nest to be able to count them. Out of the 7 Tripods that were being used by Herons, I counted 23 chicks. Unfortunately a lot of the manmade tree stands that were put up were used by the Cormorants. I combined the tree nest and tree stands to get the number of young in trees, which was 37 chicks.
July 2015: The chicks were all large enough, so I assumed they all fledged, the total Great Blue Herons fledged in 2015 was 60. For the first time since I have been monitoring the marsh we had Great Egrets nesting in a couple of trees on the island. The two trees that I could count chicks in totaled 5. I believe there was another nest farther back which also produced Egrets, but I couldn’t see the chicks. We also had 4 cygnets from Mute Swans that nested.
The Rookery viewing on Saturdays during nesting season hosted 575 visitors including the 2 events that were hosted by the Lake County Audubon Society. Special thanks to all the volunteers.
Nesting Season 2014
We had another good year at the Heron Rookery. The 5 new tree platforms that were put up last winter produced 3 Great blue heron nests, the other 2 were used by Double-crested Cormorants.
Lake County Audubon Society hopes to work with the Forest Preserve again this coming winter to continue the longevity of this heron rookery. As the old Cottonwoods continue to rot and fall, we have been adding man-made structures to continue the life of the
rookery for educational purposes.
This year, as well as every year, volunteers from the Lake County Forest Preserves hosted Rookery viewing. The gate at Almond Marsh is open every Saturday from the first Saturday in April through the last Saturday in June (except Memorial Day weekend),
from 8:00am until noon. This year we had a total of over 500 visitors come to view the rookery as the heron eggs hatched and the young grew to maturity until they fledged from the nests.
During this year’s nesting season, 15 Great blue heron nests produced 49 young herons which fledged successfully. Many Cormorants also fledged. We hope to have another great viewing year next season. Please come join us on Saturdays next season.
As the marsh trees and branches keep falling there is less and less nesting areas for the Great Blue Herons. This year we came up with a plan to add nesting platforms to existing tree stumps. With the okay from the Forest Preserve we went back out on the ice with a new
design made out of 2x4's that could be hung on the dead cottonwoods. We added 5 of these platforms along with a designed double sided platform on one of the trees. To see pictures of these click here.
Also, with the sightings of juvenile Black-crowned Night Herons on the island last year, we put up 6 man made 4 foot high nesting platforms in hope to attract more of the BCNH's. To see a photo these stands click here.
Nesting Season 2013
With the continuation of rotting trees and branches the Heron nests continue to decline. This year at the end of nesting season I counted 19 Great Blue Heron nests. This included platforms and tree nests. The Herons still had a good reproduction year, the offspring that fledged from the total nests were 53. We will continue to work with the Forest Preserve to keep the rookery in existence.
Winter of 2013
Lake County Audubon Society with the cooperation of the Lake County Forest Preserve was able to modify two of the existing heron platforms. Three nests were added to one of the platforms, a nest off each leg of the tripod. The other platform was modified with a nest directly under the existing nest. The work was done on the ice February 5, 2013. We look forward to the return of the herons in March and hope they nest on the new additions. To see pictures of the modification work click here.
Almond Marsh Heron Rookery Update Summer of 2012 by Jack Nowak
It was a great year for the rookery, not only for the visitors, but for the herons. Thanks to the Lake County Forest Preserve for supporting the Heron watch program on Saturdays during nesting season. The rookery was open from 8:00am to noon and gave the public the opportunity to view the herons in their natural habitat while they raised their young. This was a record year for the number of visitors - we had over 320 come out to view the herons and other water birds. It was also a record year for the reproduction of the herons. I counted 86 young compared to 63 last year. I believe this was due to the platforms and the tree nests rebuilt this year. All of the visitors who came were amazed at the viewing, not only of the herons, but other water and shore birds. A lot of them commented that this was their first time seeing a rookery and they were glad they had the opportunity to see the herons and young up close. Because of the great turnout this year, the Forest Preserve has agreed to continue the program next year. If anyone is interested in volunteering next year, please contact The Lake County Audubon or the Forest Preserve. We hope this program continues as long as the herons keep coming back to the marsh. The nests are all empty now, as the young have fledged. Most will still be around in marshes, wetlands and rivers until the end of September or early October. Then they will start their migration south to the Gulf States where they will spend the winter until next spring. We look forward to their return.
Almond Marsh Update - Summer of 2011
The Rookery was another success this year with the amount of Heron eggs hatched, 11 of the platforms produced 30 young and the tree nests produced 32 young. There was also an abundance of Cormorant young this year.
Unfortunately there was a lot of storm damage this year. On May 29 when all the young were in the nests, I counted a total of 40 nests, platforms and trees. When the strong winds came through in mid-June we were down to 32 nests which included both trees and platforms. We also lost one platform when a tree fell on it and knocked it down. A lot of the young were fledging at this time and were able to get down to logs floating in the water. But the storm on July 11, that had up to 70 mph winds, took a toll on the rookery. When I went out to check on the nests, I counted only 10 tree nests left. The 11 platforms were still standing. There weren’t any birds left in the nests. Luckily most of them had already fledged, but they were still dependent upon their parents for food. I saw a lot of young on logs at the bottom of the nests, but there is no way of telling the amount of loss due to the storm damage.
Special Thanks to all who helped put up 11 more Heron Platforms at Almond Marsh, 2010.
When the Herons returned in early March 2010 they had 11 more nesting platforms, thanks to over 35 volunteers who helped erect them on February 1st and 2nd. Lake County Forest Preserve and Lake County Audubon went into partnership to help save the Heron Rookery that has been slowly deteriorating over the years. To see some photos of the process click here.