The Nest Tripods and Platforms
The Weathersfield Heron Rookery is a quiet place in winter. Gone are the ducks, blackbirds, and flycatchers. Only the winter birds remain. The platforms stand as silent sentinels, waiting for the return of the Great Blue Herons in the spring.
The winter provides a perfect time to place new tripods once the ice is sufficiently thick to provide a safe working surface.
The nest tripods and platforms are a simple design made of steel to hold up to the freezing of the pond in the winter. The legs of the tripods are 1-1/2 in galvanized steel pipe, 16- to 20-ft long. The ends of the three legs have clevises welded to couplings that connect to the nest platform. The nest platform is constructed of 3/16 inch steel plate, cut in a square or triangular shape, 8 in to a side. A set of ears is welded at the corners of this plate to mate with the clevises at the ends of the legs. Attachment is with a 1/2-in bolt. Atop the plate, 3/8 inch to 1/2 inch formed (bent up) rebar 18 inches long is welded to form a basket to support the nest. We have put a few sticks on the basket to entice the herons. We have also found that adding a 3-ft x 3-in diameter stick protruding from the side of the basket provides a perching location for the adult when feeding the young. We attach it initially with wire ties, but it gets built into the nest by the herons.
One feature we find that is attractive to herons is to have multiple nest platforms per tripod. Some images of these are shown below, but we do not have a simple design for them at this point.
The tripods must be put in open water in relative close proximity to each other, within 30 feet. The birds are colonial nesters and prefer lots of company. If a tripod is not being utilized, try moving it away from shore and closer to its nearest neighbor.
The platforms were readily accepted by our herons, and within a short time were the only structures in use by the birds for nesting.
The bolted connection between the tripod legs and basket
The nest platform with a basket shape from the bent rebar.
Side view of basket with a nest