Since the trees have matured in downtown Roseburg, green herons have begun nesting. Umpqua Valley Audubon Society plans to conduct its second annual survey identifying nesting trees on Thursday.
Mark Hamm, an audubon member, said he lives above downtown and he often sees the green herons.
“I’ve noticed when I pull up to a stop sign, here comes a green heron flying by,” Hamm said. He said the birds nest downtown and fly to the South Umpqua River or Deer Creek to eat. “They’ll throw stuff on the water and when the fish come up to get it, they’ll snag the fish.”
Diana Wales, president of Umpqua Valley Audubon, said the survey event is meant to educate people about what they can do to help the juvenile green herons who will leave the nest this summer.
“The trees downtown are excellent nesting habitat, but are not really well-suited for the juveniles who, when they’re ready to start adventuring on their own, end up on the sidewalk,” Wales said.
She and other birders have been trained by Umpqua Wildlife Rescue to care for the birds for a couple weeks until they’re ready to be released to a safer spot, like Ford’s Pond in Sutherlin.
Brenda Weber, treasurer of Umpqua Wildlife Rescue, is also a wildlife rehabilitator.
“I’ve rehabilitated a number of green herons and usually we’re pretty successful getting them up to release weight and getting them to be able to be released,” she said. “We work out of our homes, so basically we feed them fish and house them in airline kennels until they’re a certain age and eating on their own.”
At that point, the birds are moved to a flight cage with a pool full of fish for the birds to hunt. Once the birds weigh about 250 grams and are able to hunt on their own, they can be released. Umpqua Wildlife Rescue, supported through donations, provides all the resources needed for the rehabilitation.
If visitors to downtown encounter a scrawny, crow-sized juvenile bird wandering around Jackson Street, Weber said she encourages them to pick the bird up gently with a light towel or T-shirt and put it in a box in a quiet, safe place out of the sun. She said people should not give the bird food or water, but call Umpqua Wildlife Rescue.
“If you hold them and pet them, they get scared and it’s better for them not to be around people,” Weber said.
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife gave Umpqua Wildlife Rescue permission to release the birds in different areas than where they were found because it will help the herons survive.
Hamm said the survey on Thursday will help Audubon document how many herons are downtown, and will also raise awareness so people will be on the lookout for the birds.
Hamm said he has worked with Lance Colley, Roseburg’s city manager, to put up posters in the area kiosks to help downtown business owners and other community members identify the herons.
“It’s a wonderful partnership between Umpqua Wildlife Rescue, ODFW and the city of Roseburg,” Wales said. “Everybody’s coming together to help these birds that have nested in downtown Roseburg.”
On Thursday, Colley said he’s seen some green herons flying in the area within the last week. He said he’s noticed white droppings on the ground under a tree in front of Merle Norman Cosmetic Studio, an indication of an active nest.
The public is welcome to meet for the nest surveying event, which is also a pub crawl, at 5 p.m. Thursday at O’Toole’s Pub on Jackson Street. Depending on turnout, Audubon will plan routes for small groups to survey the trees along Rose, Jackson, Main and cross streets with mature trees. All groups will end at Salud Brewery and Food Truck on Lane Avenue around 6:30 p.m. to review their findings and to have a celebratory brew or dinner.
“The walk is going to be a wonderful opportunity to enjoy downtown Roseburg and nature at the same time,” Wales said.