This bird doesn’t much like his care-givers but has quickly learned the routine in our pond. All of the birds are first let into the outside enclosure for the day while the staff begin to clean and put fresh food in the inside pond. The Heron prefers his food live and, as we don’t have access to a lot of live fish, we put the freshly thawed fish into the water as we are filling the pond. The flowing water makes the fish move around and Heron thinks he is hunting live fish. We learned a long time ago to be smarter than a Heron!
The challenge we face now is that it will be about 4 more months before we can safely release a Heron here in Alberta. The bird is eating about $150 worth of smelts per month but of more concern is that it will have to be held in a relatively small area for the entire winter.
Heron experts in BC have been consulted with the hopes we could send him to warmer climates. On investigation we find that the Herons of BC are a different subspecies and our bird would be out of his natural habitat if we were to take it there. We would need to take it down into the US to find normal wintering grounds for this bird. This would be extremely difficult due to cross-border issues, so we will make him as comfortable as possible and keep buying fish for the winter. We can release the bird into our wetland as soon as the ice thaws. Let’s hope for an early spring!