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Heron Tracking Success!

Harpswell Heritage Land Trust
June 19, 2019

The team finishes attaching the heron’s tracker shortly before it is released.

Success! A great blue heron caught in Harpswell is now flying around wearing her new solar powered GPS transmitter. This project was made possible by help from HHLT volunteers and Harpswell Coastal Academy teachers and students.

Danielle D’Auria, a wildlife biologist with Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife, spent weeks scouting the Harpswell area for sites where herons were feeding regularly, along with sites where small fish could be trapped for bait. Using game cameras, volunteers and her own field observations, Danielle selected a wetland on Harpswell Neck for setting up her capture site. Because the heron had been filmed feeding at first light the capture team including local students was in the field with their traps set by 4 a.m. The heron arrived at 4:30 a.m. and stepped into a humane trap at 4:50 a.m.

The team moved quickly to secure the heron, the bird was weighed and blood samples were taken to determine the sex. A small transmitter was installed on the heron’s back using lightweight but durable Teflon straps, which will track the heron’s location and send it to a database. The bird was released as soon as possible to minimize the stress of being restrained by humans.

In an unexpected turn of events, the heron caught in Harpswell subsequently flew to New Brunswick, Canada. For instructions on how to track the movements of this heron and several others Danielle has tagged, click here.