Return flight: Homecoming celebration welcomes great blue heron back to Kiwanis Ravine
By Rick Levin
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They are by turns graceful and gangly, with long, elegant bodies lofted in flight by a
tremendous wingspan, and their late-night calls sound like the prehistoric yawp of a
pterodactyl, something straight out of Jurassic Park.
It's rare for the great blue heron to nest in an urban environment - too much noise - which
is all the more reason for Magnolia to welcome back the colony that returns to Kiwanis
Ravine every February to court, mate and birth a new generation of rara avis.
Heron Habitat Helpers (HHH), a Magnolia-based nonprofit dedicated to the upkeep and
preservation of heron habitat at Kiwanis Ravine, held a Heron Homecoming March 1 at
Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center in Discovery Park. United Indians of All Tribes
Foundation (UIATF), which owns Daybreak Star, co-sponsored the event, and UIATF CEO
Phil Lane was the evening's emcee.
Lane, who at one point during the proceedings donned a full, flowing Indian headdress,
kicked off the ceremony a little after 7 p.m. by joining a group of seven drummers beating
traditional Indian tomtoms in a loud, rhythmic tattoo. He then extended a "warm, loving,
respectful handshake and embrace" to the "human family" present at the festivities,
referring to the present heron homecoming as a moment of deep spirituality.
"This is a sacred time," Lane said. "A time of change. A time of transportation. Every
single person in this circle, in this house, is wholly respected as a human being."
Lane went on to acknowledge several member of the audience, including Magnolia
Community Club past president Heidi Carpine, HHH newsletter editor Alice Marsh, UNAIT
board chair Ed Claplanhoo and board secretary Marty Bluewater.
He also introduced John Halliday, a member of the Muckleshoot tribe in Yakima who told a
humorous story about how the great blue heron got yellow eyes. (In the legend related by
Bluewater, the bird replaces his lost eyes with chokecherries, which cast a beautiful tint
on everything he sees.)
Lane, with a combination of disarming humor and earnestness, addressed in his talk the
fractious nature of modern life, making a passionate plea for connectedness in preserving
not just the heron's way of
life but that of the wider Advertisement
world. "What we need at
this time is unity," he said.
"We kind of went haywire
this last few hundred
years. We can correct that.
"We want with all our heart
and soul," he added, "to
see this land restored the
way it was 200 years ago."
Robin Clark, from the
group People for Puget
Sound, spoke to the crowd
about the oddly gorgeous
appeal of the great blue
heron. "They bring you
back to that prehistoric
time," she said, adding that
the best way for folks to
honor the bird is to "pay
attention" to their way of
"That's the most important thing in the world," she said: "To pay attention. With our
climate changing, sometimes watching the critters is the most important thing you can
Clark also said that Magnolia residents should consider themselves blessed to have a
heron colony in their midst. "In other places, they [heron] stay away from human
disturbance. Heron are typically shy."
There are two things that can cause a heron colony to abandon its nest, Clark explained,
the first being the aforementioned human disturbance. The other thing is unexpected
noise, she said, whether that be the toot of a car horn or the crash of a bulldozer paving
the way for construction.
For this reason, "restoration is really important," Clark said. "They have to have food really
close by," and too much urban development too close to the nest may cause them to