The primary objective of this project is to generate population estimates for all Great Blue Herons and Great Egrets currently nesting on the Coastal Plain of Virginia. A secondary objective is to produce map coverages for all colonies of Great Blue Herons and Great Egrets within the Coastal Plain. Taken together, these 2 information products will allow for an assessment of status and distribution for Great Blue Herons and Great Egrets in the eastern portion of the state. Comparison of the 2013 survey to the 1993, and 2003 surveys will allow for an evaluation of trends.

Project Description:

A single extensive aerial survey was conducted using a fixed-wing aircraft during the peak of the breeding season. Once detected, a colony was circled long enough to allow observers to map the colony location and estimate its size. All colonies will be given a unique numerical code and mapped on GPS enabled tablet computers, aerial imagery, or topographic maps. Colony population estimation techniques followed those of Watts and Byrd (1998).

Years: 2013 – 2014
Status: Complete
Project Partners: Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Maryland Department of Natural Resources and Heritage Service, supported in part by federal grant funds through the Wildlife Restoration Program, and support by the Chesapeake Bay Critical Areas Program. Additional funding provided by The Center for Conservation Biology.
CCB Staff: Bryan Watts, Bart Paxton
Project Contact: Bryan Watts bdwatt@wm.edu (757) 221-2247

View this data in the CCB Mapping Portal.

Related Links:
News Story: Great Blue Herons Rebound in the Chesapeake Bay.