Photo courtesy of Cornell lab of Ornithology

Great Blue Herons have claimed the nest in a huge dead tree in Sapsucker Woods Pond, Ithaca, New York

This Great Blue Heron nest is in a large, dead white oak in the middle of Sapsucker Woods pond, right outside the Cornell Lab’s Johnson Center for Birds and Biodiversity, newest live-streaming nest camera. We’d like to invite you to watch along with us as these magnificent birds begin their nesting activities for the year. Adult herons can be up to 4.5 feet tall, with a wingspan up to 6 feet. Despite their large size, they typically only weigh around 5 pounds.

Herons usually lay 2-4 eggs and share incubation duties for 25-30 days. Incubation begins with the first egg, and the young hatch asynchronously (not at the same time) over 2-5 days. After hatching, it’ll take 7-8 weeks before they fly from the nest for the first time.

The Great Blue Herons have nested in this snag for the last four years. We can see the nest from our staff lounge, and in years past we’ve enjoyed guessing when the eggs would hatch, watching for the day the chicks’ little beaks first appear over the nest rim, and following them as they grow to four-foot tall adolescents. This year you’ll be able to watch their progress from virtually inside the nest.

The herons returned to the nest in mid-March and soon began courting: bringing twigs, standing side by side in the nest, clattering their bills, and nipping at each other. To get good views of these large birds, we’ve installed two cameras that stream simultaneously, one from above the nest and the other at nest level. The lower camera can record even in dark conditions and streams all night long.

March 28 at around 7:30 p.m., the heron laid her first egg! Tune in to keep watching for the next eggs. Great Blue Herons typically lay eggs every two days, sometimes three, until the clutch is complete. After that it will be 25–30 days before the chicks hatch, and they will spend another 7–8 weeks in the nest before they fledge. We hope you’ll join us as we watch this all unfold!

The site will be live 24 hours a day and the upper camera’s video can be streamed in HD. You can also watch on mobile devices such as smartphones and iPads. A full-featured BirdCams site will launch in late April with more birds.

We’ve enjoyed having these herons outside our windows in years past, and we hope you enjoy them too!

Live streaming video of a Great Blue Heron nest. http://www.allaboutbirds.org/page.aspx?pid=2433

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