Music or Mayhem? The Sounds of Great Blue Herons

They may sound like dinosaurs screeching, but its music to one neighbours ears

Herons abandoned their nests last year, and Campbell River man won’t let it happen again.

Great Blue Herons are like those noisy neighbours next door.

“It sounds like a pterodactyl,” Campbell Riverite John Wood told the Campbell River Mirror.

“You hear these God-awful sounds. It’s like someone being murdered.”

While it might sound like he’s less than thrilled to have these birds nesting in his backyard, he actually feels the opposite.

Their screeching is like music to his ears.

“They are very vocal, but I don’t mind them,” he said.

He’s been making the rounds around the neighbourhood, joined by Gillian Anderson from the BC Great Blue Heron Society. They are letting everyone know that even though the birds themselves may make their fair share of noise, they actually need a lot of peace and quiet.

“A couple of the heron colonies in Campbell River failed last year because of too much noise,” Anderson said. “The concern was this year the fireworks, but now there’s a campfire ban which will stop fireworks as well. We’re still hoping that people can understand how they need it to be quiet in the area when they’re nesting.”

The heron’s nesting season is relatively brief, just a few weeks out of the year.  Woods feels the birds have every right to their bit of space in the growing city.

The herons have been nesting on Wood’s property for years, but abandoned their nests for the first time last year. Wood thinks a nearby noisy construction site was to blame.

They’ve returned this year, and Wood hopes they’ll stick around to see their chicks all grown up.

The City of Campbell River has some steps to protect the dinosaur-esque birds. In 2022, the city updated an existing Development Permit Area to protect trees used by herons.

Anderson told the Mirror that municipal action makes a real difference.

“It’s really important that you have really sensitive community development so that wetlands and large blocks of forest are conserved as much as possible…when you save the wetlands and the forested blocks and whatnot, you make your community more livable.”

For anyone who isn’t quite so enamoured with the screeching birds, or other noisy neighbours, noise-cancelling headphones might be the move to truly make the community livable for everyone.