Great Blue Herons Nesting at Stow Lake

Academy of Sciences Interns Help Visitors Understand Mating Activities of Stately Birds

SAN FRANCISCO (May 17, 2000) — Now through mid-June, visitors to Stow Lake in Golden Gate Park have a unique opportunity to observe nesting herons and their chicks with the help of some teenagers dedicated to exploring and explaining the natural world -- interns from the California Academy of Sciences. These young naturalists, trained by Academy scientists and educators to teach science to museum visitors, are taking their knowledge, teaching skills, and spotting scopes out into the park to help visitors find the nests high in treetops and explain the activities of the nesting birds.

Called the Heron Explainers Project, the program is a collaboration between the Golden Gate Audubon Society and the California Academy of Sciences. The program’s director, Nancy DeStefanis created the project because "when Great Blue Herons began nesting at Stow Lake in 1993, thousands of people — young and old — came to see the birds building their nests, feeding their chicks, and mating. This year we have four nests — all offering exciting views of these beautiful and charismatic birds. The interns can answer questions that people may have about the birds and add context and meaning to a beautiful event. Educating the public is vital to the success of our conservation efforts." Once hunted for their plumes, Great Blue Heron populations were largely devastated in the early 1900s. However, the birds now flourish in the United States as a result of legal protections obtained by the National Audubon Society.

The Explainers Booth is located on the path near the 1893 stone bridge, a short walk from the boathouse at Stow Lake. The booth is open each Saturday from 10:30 am to 5 pm through June 17.