James River Water Levels

Westham Gauge
Gauge Height: 3.93'
Flow: 2000 cfps

Trail Conditions: Richmond


Todays Tides: Richmond Locks

High Tide: 12:42am
Low Tide: 7:42pm

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Posted In: Birding

Herons return to downtown RVA

January 29, 2013 9:08am

It’s that time of year again. T-D environment reporter Rex Springston has a story in today’s Metro section on Richmond’s great blue herons beginning nest building and courtship displays down at the heron rookery near Pipeline Rapid.

Credit: Phil Riggan
















The birds fly in each winter to their rookery, or breeding colony, on the island. The herons are claiming their spots now, and they will either fix up old nests or build new ones, said Mike Wilson, a biologist with the Center for Conservation Biology at the College of William and Mary and Virginia Commonwealth University.

About two dozen pairs were in the colony Sunday afternoon. Some courted, some worked on their nests, and others just stood in the trees.

To get the best view Springston writes, visitors should head down to the Pipeline Rapids footbridge, between 12th and 14th streets. Binoculars are not necessary, but they do help.

Springston mentions that herons nest around the same time as bald eagles in this area. If you followed the saga of the Windsor Farms bald eagles and the T-D Eagle Cam last year, you know that those eagles have decamped for a new nest, likely on Williams Island. There’s also been a nest on Cooper’s Island, just upstream of Nickel Bridge toward the south bank of the James. Eagle action should be heating up at both of these locations very soon.

About Andy Thompson

I was the Outdoors Columnist at the Times-Dispatch from 2007 to 2013, writing twice a week about mountain biking, fishing, hunting, paddling and much more. I live a 1/4 mile from the James River, close enough to see bald eagles soaring over my house on their way to find a meal. Pretty cool, eh?