On May 22, 2011, a tornado hit North Minneapolis. In its wake, Heron Island (as I liked to call it!), was destroyed. Hundreds of Great Blue Heron nests were in ruins. My family and I were coming over the Camden Bridge trying to get to our home to survey the tornado damage. The traffic was backed up due to debris and a gas leak. As we sat on the bridge, I looked to my right and saw several herons circling the island. The trees looked like sticks. The nests were gone and the adult herons were desperately searching for their nests and eggs. I cried.
The future of the herons was unknown. Would they return?
The herons did return. Not back to the same island at Mississippi Park, but to an island further down river. The new rookery (or as I call it, the “New Heron Island”) is near the Lowry Avenue Bridge. I am pleased to say that they did return, and each year more and more nests appear. It is truly amazing to have such a beautiful piece of nature right here in the heart of North Minneapolis!
I learned from my aunt, Sue Quist, that herons nest in pairs, and the males and females take turns leaving the nest. This way, if something (oh, say, like a tornado) happens to the nests or rookery, one gender is not completely wiped out. Fascinating.