Great Blue Herons with Nesting Material, Photo by Sharon Wada

by Sharon Wada

Over the decades, conservation-minded citizens such as the McIlraith family have donated properties to our organization. In 1989, they gave us a six-acre tract in the Swamp Creek wetlands of Kenmore. This creek originates in the north near Paine Field in Everett and snakes southeast through both Snohomish and King Counties. From Kenmore, it flows into the Sammamish River which in turn reaches Lake Washington.

Many know this large marshland as home to a bustling Great Blue Heron rookery. In the spring, mates build dozens of nests on a cluster of spindly trees and firs and. eventually, rambunctious chicks emerge, creating a noisy, lively community of bird families that is amazing to observe.

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As development rages in the Puget Sound region, stewardship has become an increasingly powerful and critical force in conserving natural spaces. This is an undertaking that our organization wholeheartedly supports, but is not equipped to address directly.

Our 2020 strategic plan directed the board of directors to find better homes for several pieces of land that were transferred to us.

Kenmore Marsh Heron Rookery
Kenmore Marsh Heron Rookery, Photo by Sharon Wada

The City of Kenmore was interested in adding this parcel to its portfolio of other properties in Swamp Creek marsh that were already under their stewardship wing. After a months-long approval process and thanks to the dedication of Debbie Bent, the city’s community development director, the Kenmore City Council passed an ordinance accepting our donation on October 24, 2022. The McIlraith parcel was officially transferred to the city on the December 31, 2022.

Great Blue Heron Parent and Nestling
Great Blue Heron Parent and Nestling, Photo by Sharon Wada

In Kenmore, you can visit a section of Swamp Creek at Wallace Swamp Creek Park as well as view the wetland habitat and Great Blue Heron rookery from the Kenmore Park and Ride. Make sure you catch the commotion before the chicks fledge and parents leave for the season. If you miss them, be sure to circle back next spring.

Kenmore Marsh
Kenmore Marsh landscape, Photo by Sharon Wada

With the City of Kenmore’s protective eye on the Swamp Creek habitat, our wish is that all birds and wildlife including the Great Blue Herons continue to thrive and find refuge here, for many generations to come.

Sharon Wada

Sharon Wada

Board Secretary, Birds Connect Seattle

A native Seattleite and graduate of the University of Washington, Sharon enjoyed a decades long career in healthcare information technology, including 25 years managing her own independent consulting firm.  Sharon is an avid photographer but fairly new to birding. She considers it a privilege to observe and capture images of birds in nature.

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