Sole surviving heron injured in May windstorm takes flight over Padilla Bay

While many eyes were on the sky Monday watching the solar eclipse, a group of wildlife enthusiasts looked out over Padilla Bay to celebrate the sight of a young great blue heron taking flight from March Point.

The heron, estimated to be about 5 months old, was the only survivor of a windstorm in late May that knocked many of the young birds from their nests at the Skagit Land Trust’s March Point heronry.

Of six birds taken to the Wolf Hollow Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, the heron released Monday was the only one to recover.

Wolf Hollow Education Coordinator Shona Aitken said three died shortly after arriving at the Friday Harbor facility.

The other two developed bone issues that did not allow them to stand properly, Wolf Hollow Executive Director Amy Saxe-Eyler said.

Because the birds would not have been able to survive in the wild, they were euthanized, Aitken said.

The remaining young heron was released after help from Wolf Hollow staff, volunteers from the Skagit Land Trust and the volunteer Skagit Heron Foraging Study team.

“It’s been wonderful to see how so much combined knowledge and expertise was shared to get this bird back to its world in Padilla Bay,” said Sue Ehler, who volunteers with the study team and Wolf Hollow. “By the grace of favorable tides and fate, this bird was released actually near the end of the recent eclipse. You could say he was released from darkness back into the sun.”