Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)

The Great Blue Heron, Ardea herodias fannini, is a subspecies of heron that resides along the north east coast of the Pacific. About 6,000 to 10,000 individuals are thought to inhabit the coastline with most occurring in the Strait of Georgia, British Columbia and Puget Sound, Washington. Concerns about the subspecies ability to contend with human and eagle disturbance has been the impetus behind its designation as a ‘Species of Special Concern’ in Canada and research into its population ecology. Members of the Wildlife Ecology Chair at Simon Fraser University are engaged in research on this species in British Columbia and Washington. We also foster a cooperative conservation network known as the Heron Working Group.

Major aspects of work include:

•Breeding biology in British Columbia by Rob Butler, Ross Vennesland and Jamie Kenyon

• Metapopulation modelling by Barrie Smith, Jamie Kenyon and Rob Butler

• Predation and disturbance by Ross Vennesland and Iain Jones


Butler, R.W. 1993. Time of breeding in relation to food availability of female Great Blue Herons (Ardea herodias). Auk 110:693-701.

Butler, R.W. 1994. Population regulation in wading Ciconiiform birds. Colonial Waterbirds 17:189-199.

Butler, R.W. 1995. The patient predator: population and for aging ecology fo the Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) in British Columbia. Canadian Wildlife Service Occasional Paper Series, No. 83, Ottawa.

Butler, R.W., P. E. Whitehead, A. M. Breault and I. E. Moul. 1995. Colony effects on fledging success of Great Blue Herons (Ardea herodias) in British Columbia. Colonial Waterbirds 18: 159-165.

Butler, R.W. 1997. The Great Blue Heron. University of British Columbia Press, Vancouver.

Butler, R.W. and R. G. Vennesland. 2000. Integrating climate change and predation risk with wading bird conservation research in North America. Waterbirds 23: 535-540.

Butler, R.W., J. A. Kushlan and I. J. Davidson. 2000. Herons in North America, Central America and the West Indies, pp. 151-176 in Heron Conservation (J. A. Kushlan and H. Hafner, Eds.). Academic Press, New York.


Vennesland, R. G. 2000. The effects of disturbance from humans and predators on the breeding decisions and productivity of the Great Blue Heron in south-coastal British Columbia. MS thesis, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, Canada.

Gutsell, R. 1995. Age-related for aging behaviour and habitat use in Great Blue Herons. MS thesis, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, Canada.