[Tweeters] Marymoor Park - Dog saves heron!

Mike Hamilton mikeham44 at comcast.net
Fri Feb 27 21:21:13 PST 2015

Ok, I’m exaggerating. It wasn’t just a dog. It was a man and his dog that saved the heron.

Inside the Marymoor Park off-leash dog area is at least a curious, if not unlikely place, for a great blue heron colony. But they have coexisted for four years now. Today the herons were minding their own business, hunting and preparing nests for the coming season (1-7). Then trouble struck and it wasn’t dogs or people. Forget them. It was the usual problem....eagles. An eagle went into the colony, snatched an adult heron and made a 150 foot glide to the ground with it, landing about thirty feet off a main footpath. Unfortunately I couldn’t get to a vantage point for a photo in time. They had only been on the ground less than ten seconds before a man and his dog came down the path and spooked the eagle into leaving. This was extremely good fortune for the heron. I think given another fraction of a minute and that heron was a goner. As it was, it was able to take off and join the other herons. The eagle returned to a place inside the colony, which was now empty of herons (8). At this point I discovered that it wasn’t just one eagle, but four adults, all together. As far as I could see there was no attempt to attack a heron in flight. After a few minutes, all four took off and headed toward the lake (9).

After about a half hour, one of the four eagles returned to the heron colony circled, but didn’t land (10-11). The herons again flushed high into the sky (12), eventually landing in scattered groups outside the colony (13). After awhile they singly began to make their way back to the colony (14-18). By two hours after the attack, all had returned. Whether this was an opportunistic attack by “tourist” eagles or the beginning of persistent trouble remains to be seen. I have witnessed and photographed a number of eagle attacks on heron nests in years past at Black River in Renton, causing that colony to dissipate to other sites. This was the first time I have seen an eagle attack an adult heron in a colony. Fingers crossed for those at Marymoor!

I spent most of the time with the herons. Otherwise, there was the Pea Patch male Anna’s at his usual perch (19-21), golden-crowned sparrows all over the place (22), and a garter snake who was thankful I wasn’t an eagle (23).

Photos of all this are on my website at:


Mike Hamilton
Sammamish, WA
mikeham44 at comcast.net

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