Thursday, April 18, 2024

A Bird’s Eye View of Great Blue Herons in Coronado (Treetop Videos)

The Torrey pine at Glorietta and Miguel.

Near the intersection of Glorietta Boulevard and Miguel Avenue in Coronado, there is a lot of activity around, atop and below a gigantic Torrey pine tree. Most of the activity is on top, but if you venture near this area, you will come across fish bones, an often unpleasant smell, and plenty of bird droppings. This tree (and others in town) is home to blue herons, known for cruising the coastline with slow, deep wingbeats.

The view from the ground

The blue herons find their solace outside of Cassie’s home that she shares with her husband, Refugio Rochin. He recalls, “during covid going back two years now, the golf course in front of [our house] was closed. Cassie and I walked on the course and over time I found many herons in the ponds. Along with geese, mallards, etc., I believe that the ponds have become a special place for HERON “SCHOOL” FOR AVIATION TRAINING. The herons from the Torrey pine tree can easily fly from there to the pond and adapt for life of fishing in the Coronado bay.”

Blue heron in the backyard

In addition to watching the birds, the blue herons have become a special part of their lives. Refugio shares, “I have pics of infant herons that crash landed in our yard. Those alive were taken to the Bird Shelter in San Diego. Coronado Police have a unit for rescues – although they can use better equipment than a towel and small pen for transport.”

The view from the sky

The great blue herons have another admirer, videographer Ivan Dunn. Ivan has been aware of the birds since 1997. Ivan explains, “During my daily, early-morning jogs around the island it was hard not to notice these large, raucous birds in the top of the tree on Glorietta. My interest intensified when I began flying drones and received permission from the tree’s owner, Refugio Rochin, to fly over the tree. Several years ago, I made my first drone flight to gain a top down view of the tree. I was both fascinated and hooked. Since then I’ve watched them each season with my drone’s nice telephoto lens and sound-deafening propellers.”

Ivan spends three or four hours each “season” to check in on the blue herons. He shares, “The adults begin arriving in December and both adults and grown chicks generally began departing in July. I try to check the tree every 2-3 weeks. I admit my interest sometimes draws me back twice a week when the eggs should be about to hatch.”

Ivan’s interest in birds goes back to his time growing up in a rural Missouri town. He recalls, “I had a pet pigeon that followed me around each morning on my bicycle as I delivered the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The great blue herons, however, drew my interest because my drone is able to watch them from a distance and not worry about bothering them in any way.”

He describes what it’s like to film the birds: “Viewing these very large creatures circling the tree, building large nests and raising a family of two to three chicks each year mesmerized me. I particularly enjoy viewing them once each nest is occupied and they are feeding several chicks who become very aggressive in their efforts to motivate a parent to regurgitate a fish for them. A movie of this behavior is the best way to describe it.”

With the trees full, now is a great time to stroll down Glorietta. Keep your eyes and ears open for the blue herons!

Here are some of Dunn’s videos:



Alyssa K. Burns
Alyssa K. Burns
Alyssa is a graduate of Coronado High School and was in the founding broadcast journalism class at CHS. She earned her BA in Communication from CSU East Bay and completed her MBA from CSU San Marcos. Her passion for writing and interest in the behind the scenes of business, leads her to write frequently about Coronado businesses. You can find Alyssa walking around the ferry landing with her husband and shih-tzu terrier or enjoying a cup of coffee at one of Coronado's favorite cafes.Have a story for The Coronado Times to cover? Send news tips or story ideas to: [email protected]

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