As nesting colonies of black-crowned night herons return annually to the developing and the growing City of Oakland, this year, Oakland Zoo formed the official Heron Rescue Team to rescue fallen fledglings from the trees in the downtown area. With two daily foot patrols, the Heron Rescue Team consisted of designated Oakland Zoo staff and volunteers that helped save 140 herons during the 5-month long nesting season. This project is a collaborative effort between Oakland Zoo, International Bird Rescue, and the Golden Gate Audubon Society.
“Oakland Zoo is fully committed to preserving wildlife in our great city. With 140 fledglings rescued, rehabilitated, and released this year alone, we hope to continue this important work and see our city’s official bird thrive in the years to come,” said Nik Dehejia, chief executive officer of Oakland Zoo.
Oakland is home to the largest black-crowned night-heron rookery (communal nesting ground for birds) in the Bay Area. When nests are built in the trees on busy Oakland streets, the fledglings (babies) of the black-crown night herons, just learning to fly, sometimes fall from their nests onto the concrete sidewalks or streets, often resulting in severe injury or death.
“Golden Gate Audubon was thrilled that the Oakland Zoo resumed rescue operations this year. Black-crowned night herons are the official bird of Oakland, and they merit some special attention to ensure that they can continue to thrive in the city,” said Glenn Phillips, executive director of the Golden Gate Audubon Society.
The Heron Rescue Team brought injured birds to the Zoo for intermediary medical evaluation and treatment. The Zoo then transported birds to International Bird Rescue to complete their recovery period. The birds that have recovered and are old enough to survive and fly are steadily being released into the wild into safe and local habitats, such as the Oakland Bay shoreline.
Due to their iconic city status, black-crown night herons were named the City of Oakland’s official bird in 2019 after a two-year campaign spearheaded by third-graders at Park Day School. Their status and pride in Oakland warranted the $50,000 spent by Oakland Zoo on this project to rescue and protect this bird.
Please visit the Zoo’s website here for more information on our Heron Rescue Project.
Photos Credit: © Oakland Zoo
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