Alabama Audubon is tracking Avondale Park’s “baby green herons” and they are adorable (photos)

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Alabama Audubon’s Alliemarie Humphries holding a banded green heron at Avondale Park in Birmingham. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now

Breakout the pink and blue ribbons, Avondale Park has three green heron fledglings residing on the little island in the middle of the park’s pond. 

Thanks to Alabama Audubon’s Green Heron project, we can now follow these brave little birds on their journeys around Birmingham and winter migration to Florida and Mexico.

The Banding

Paddling to the island at Avondale Park. Photo courtesy of Alabama Audubon

On the morning of Thursday June 9th, with permission from Birmingham Parks and Recreation and in coordination with the Friends of Avondale Park,  Audubon’s Science and Conservation Director Lianne Koczur banded the three baby herons. This commonly used practice will enable birdwatchers to track the movements of the herons and learn more about them.

Here is a video of the banding by Koczur (you must have a permit to conduct this kind of research, which she possesses).

Alabama Audubon’s Green Heron Project

Green Heron fledgling at Avondale Park in Birmingham. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now

We asked Audubon’s Koczur why the group is studying green herons.

“Green herons are very interesting to me. They are one of those birds not threatened or endangered, but their population has been in steep decline (their population has declined 68% in the past 50 years). The possible reason for that decline is a loss of their wetland habitat. There’s been some evidence that where wetland habitats are available, birds aren’t going to use them because there’s too much disturbance associated with those sites.” 

To better understand the plight of green herons, Alabama Audubon launched a community science project – the Green Heron Conservation and Monitoring Project – earlier this year.

Koczur said, “We are asking people to submit sightings of herons and trying to band some birds. We are putting unique color coded plastic bands on them. If they’re re-sighted, we know where that bird came from, where it was banded. Then we can start getting an idea of their local movements, potentially their long-distance migration because they are just breeding here in Birmingham.”

Community Science at Our City Parks

Whitney Byington with Green Heron at Avondale Park in Birmingham. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now

Ansel Payne, Alabama Audubon’s Executive Director who was on hand at the Avondale Park banding added:

“We don’t know where these particular herons go in the wintertime. We don’t know how they move around within the city. So, the green heron project is about getting community science members, ordinary citizens from around the city to keep an eye on the movement of green herons across the city and report them to us.”

Along with the fledglings at Avondale Park, Alabama Audubon has also banded green herons at the Birmingham Zoo and Railroad Park. 

“They are a species that has been at a slight decline across their range. It’s an important conservation measure for us to know more about them,” concluded Payne.

Help Adorable Birds

Three Green Herons at Avondale Park. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now

You can be a part of helping these adorable birds by joining this innovative community science project. 

Visit Alabama Audubon’s Green Heron Conservation and Monitoring Project webpage. Get involved. Make a difference. 

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Pat Byington
Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.
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