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Muscle Shoals in Colbert County, Alabama — The American South (East South Central)
 

Home Sweet Home

Heron Rookery

 
 
Home Sweet Home Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Sandra Hughes, March 23, 2010
1. Home Sweet Home Marker
Inscription.  Scan the wooded island just across the Tennessee River for numerous bundles of sticks scattered through the canopy. These bulky structures are the nest of Great Blue Herons. Dozens of these nests are scattered across the island, and each year Great Blue Herons gather here to raise their young. Such a concentration of nests is called a heron rookery.

Great Blue Heron rookeries often attract other flocking birds such as other heron species and Double-crested Cormorants.

The location of the rookery at the base of Wilson Dam is ideal to take advantage of all the fresh fish churned up by the dam's turbines. Look along the banks of the island where young herons learn to feed alongside the adults

Opportunistic Young Hooligans
Since many anglers also enjoy the numerous fish below the dam, watch for brave young herons that may try to seal an easy meal such as a recent catch, or even your bait.

Can you spot a Great Blue Heron?
The Great Blue Heron is one of Alabama's most distinctive birds. This tall long-necked blue-gray heron is often seen stalking the shadows of shallow water. Look for the long pointed dull-yellow

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bill, pale face and crown. Great Blue Herons often have a shaggy appearance due to the long plumes on their neck and back. Adult birds also have distinctive long dark plumes on the back of their neck that often blow around in the wind. After leaving the nest and attaining adult size, young birds are distinguished by their darker overall coloring on the head and neck and lack of long plumes.

Successful Immigrant
The Double-crested Cormorant has been gradually increasing in the Tennessee River Valley. These infamous fish-eaters may move into heron rookeries and take up residence as opportunity allows. Over the years, their numbers have increased substantially to outnumber the herons in certain locations.

Post-breeding Dispersal
In late summer when the nesting season is over, herons from elsewhere in the region visit Wilson Dam. At this time, many young birds wander away from where they were raised in search of food. Look for Great and Cattle egrets, both Black and Yellow-crowned night-herons as well as more unusual visitors such as Snowy Egrets or Little Blue Herons.
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: AnimalsEnvironment.
 
Location. 34° 47.588′ N, 87° 37.916′ W. Marker is in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, in Colbert County. Marker

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can be reached from Reservation Road. This marker is located at TVA's Wilson Dam near the boat ramp and Rockpile Park. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Muscle Shoals AL 35661, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Wilson Dam (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Muscle Shoals National Recreational Trail (about 600 feet away); Wilson Dam: Cornerstone of the TVA System (approx. 0.3 miles away); Wilson Dam: Setting the Stage (approx. 0.3 miles away); Natural and Cultural Preservation/Protecting Resources (approx. 0.3 miles away); TVA: A History of Progress and Innovation / A Valley of Hardships (approx. 0.3 miles away); Building a New Future (approx. 0.3 miles away); TVA Goes to War (approx. 0.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Muscle Shoals.
 
Also see . . .
1. Great Blue Heron. Habitat Look for Great Blue Herons in saltwater and freshwater habitats, from open coasts, marshes, sloughs, riverbanks, and lakes to backyard goldfish ponds. They also forage in grasslands and agricultural fields. Breeding birds gather in colonies or “heronries” to build stick nests high off the ground. (Submitted on July 27, 2017, by Sandra Hughes Tidwell of Killen, Alabama, USA.) 

2. Double-crested Cormorant. Habitat Double-crested Cormorants are the most widespread cormorant in North America, and the one most frequently seen in freshwater. They breed on the coast as well as on large inland lakes. They form colonies of stick nests built high in trees on islands or in patches of flooded timber. (Submitted on July 27, 2017, by Sandra Hughes Tidwell of Killen, Alabama, USA.) 

3. Yellow-crowned Night-Heron. Habitat They are most common in coastal wetlands barrier islands, saltmarshes, drainage ditches, and mangroves; they also occur inland along bottomland forests, swamps, and sometimes wet lawns or fields. (Submitted on July 27, 2017, by Sandra Hughes Tidwell of Killen, Alabama, USA.) 
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on August 3, 2017. It was originally submitted on July 27, 2017, by Sandra Hughes Tidwell of Killen, Alabama, USA. This page has been viewed 275 times since then and 5 times this year. Photo   1. submitted on July 27, 2017, by Sandra Hughes Tidwell of Killen, Alabama, USA. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
 
Editor’s want-list for this marker. A wide shot of the marker and its surroundings. • Can you help?

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Mar. 3, 2024