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Great Blue Heron Week: Celebrating Wild in the City

by Bob Sallinger


Posted on May 28, 2009 at 11:07 AM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 4 at 2:39 PM

On Wednesday Morning Portland City Council officially proclaimed May 27th through June 7th to be the 23rd Annual Great Blue Heron Week celebrating Portland's official city bird and all of our urban wildlife (see proclamation). Great Blue Heron Week will be celebrated with a series of really cool field trips and events.

23 Years ago, Audubon's Mike Houck approached then Mayor Bud Clark, after hearing Bud "wax poetic about seeing herons cross Portland's skyline, and suggested naming the heron as the official city bird. The mayor's response was "Whoop, whoop, why the hell not!" Two weeks later it was official. At the time a battle was raging over moving Marine Drive in a manner that would have destroyed a giant heron rookery---the heron rookery was ultimately saved and can be seen today at Heron Lakes Golf Course.

To celebrate the naming of the Great Blue Heron as Portland's City Bird, Oregon's poet laureate William Stafford penned the poem Spirit of Place:

Spirit of Place: Great Blue Heron
Out of their loneliness for each other
two reeds, or maybe two shadows, lurch
forward and become suddenly a life
lifted from the dawn to the rain. It is
the wilderness come back again, a lagoon
with our city reflected in its eye.
We live by faith in such presences.
It is a test for us., that thin
but real, undulating figure that promises,
"if you keep the faith I will exist
at the edge, where your vision joins
the sunlight and the rain: heads in the light,
feet that go down in the mud where the truth is."

---William Stafford

In addition, Bridgeport Brewpub celebrated the event by naming their new ale "Great Blue Heron Pale Ale" another mainstay of Portland that, like the herons, is still with us today.

Great Blue Heron 17 JC.jpg
(c) Jim Cruce