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      Nature Report: Birds Begin Arrival

      The wildflowers and yuccas are blooming on Green Island, a thirty-five acre site just northeast of the Arroyo Colorado.

      And these first signs of spring herald the arrival of scores of great blue herons. They are the first to arrive on the nesting grounds, but in a few weeks they will be joined by other colonial waterbirds.

      For now, North America's largest heron has the thickly wooden island all to itself. Standing more than four feet tall with neck outstretched and with a wingspan exceeding six feet, the great blue heron is an imposing bird.

      It is early in the season, and the males are staking out territory atop the thorny brush. They regally perch on the

      spindly branches with their impressive plumes billowing in the breeze.

      They patiently await the arrival of a female who will hopefully find their gaudy plumes and nest site selection to her liking. And just in case this is not enough of an attraction, their bills have turned a yellowish orange to enhance their chances.

      When a mate finally appears, the pair will begin bonding as they groom one another and touch bills. Next, they will build their nest, mate, and begin incubating eggs and raising a new generation.

      It an ancient ritual that has been ongoing for hundreds of years on the historic island and the bird's privacy must be respected.

      Green Island is a protected Audubon Sanctuary and is off limits to visitors. Fishermen are encouraged to give the Island a wide berth during the critical nesting season.