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Oakland Zoo Relaunch Efforts to Save Injured Herons

Posted By : The Animal Facts Editorial Team

Date: April 15, 2022 12:01 pm

Heron Rescue Project Oakland Zoo

A group of black crowned night herons are pictured while in the care of Golden Gate Audubon following injuries in the city of Oakland

Photo Credit: Golden Gate Audubon. Cheryl Reynolds.

After a two year hiatus for the Covid-19 pandemic the Oakland Zoo's Heron Rescue Team (HRT) are back on the street saving the city's official bird, the black-crowned night heron.

The HRT work in partnership with International Bird Rescue and Golden Gate Audubon Society of San Ramon to find fledgling birds, too young to fly which have fallen from their nests and need care and rehabilitation to survive.

Each day the team complete two patrols through downtown Oakland with an aim to save as many birds as possible during the 6-8 week breeding season.

Heron Rescue Project Oakland Zoo

Staff from the Oakland Zoo Heron Rescue Team survey a tree and the resident black crowned night herons

Photo Credit: Oakland Zoo

Oakland is home to the largest breeding ground for the black-crowned night heron with the birds taking over the downtown each year. Nests formed on busy streets can see chicks learning to fly fall on to hard concrete causing injuries which may lead to death.

Through their assessments this year the team have identified 151 nests across downtown Oakland.


Injured birds which are located by the HRT initially go to Oakland Zoo for intermediary medical evaluation and treatment. The zoo then transport these birds to International Bird Rescue where they can complete their rehabilitation.

Once the birds have recovered from their injuries and can survive on their own they are released in the bay area.

During 2020 and 2021 the program was suspended due to effects of the Covid-19 pandemic such as staffing issues.

“We are so proud to relaunch this program to help our official City of Oakland bird and are fully committed to preserving wildlife in our great city, the Bay Area, and beyond,”  Nik Dehejia, CEO of Oakland Zoo.

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During 2020 and 2021 the program was suspended due to effects of the Covid-19 pandemic such as staffing issues.

“We are so proud to relaunch this program to help our official City of Oakland bird and are fully committed to preserving wildlife in our great city, the Bay Area, and beyond,”  Nik Dehejia, CEO of Oakland Zoo.


In previous years the team has rescued 70 birds.


Golden Gate Audubon is thrilled that the Oakland Zoo is resuming rescue operations. Black-crowned night herons are the official bird of Oakland, and they merit some special attention to ensure that they can continue to thrive in the city," says Glenn Phillips, Executive Director of Golden Gate Audubon.


The black-crowned night heron was given official bird status by the City of Oakland in 2019 after a two-year campaign spearheaded by third-graders at Park Day School.

Learn more about Black Crowned Night Herons here – Black Crowned Fact File Fact File | The Animal Facts

Learn more about the Oakland Zoo on their website – Oakland Zoo

Heron Rescue Project Oakland Zoo

A broken heron egg which was found by the heron rescue team

Photo Credit: Oakland Zoo

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