This is not a park that you would imagine that you would find a lot of serious birders. After all the park is only about 50 yards wide in many spots and the sound of cars zooming down the freeway makes it difficult to hear any birds that might be singing.
The park does have a lot of good uses though. There are a lot of nice trails for people to bike, hike, jog or walk the dog. There is also a nice visitor's center.
Inside the visitors center they have a lot of displays giving information about the park and some of the wildlife that you might find. They also have classrooms for education, a kids area, and the all important modern facilities. So why would a nature freak like me be hanging out in this park?
The reason sits on a small island in the middle of the Mississippi River.
Each spring great blue herons return from their wintering grounds in the south to their rookery which is located on a small island in the North Mississippi Regional Park.
The males typically arrive first and, like most birds, they begin to look for a territory to claim. Since herons nest together in a rookery the territory that they claim will consist entirely of a nest.
Nests are very important to the male herons because this is the best way to attract a girl. So there is often squabbles and fighting going on at the rookery in early March.
When the females arrive it is their job to pick a mate. The males try and get their attention by screaming at them and showing of their breeding plumage and their wonderful nest. The females pick a new mate every year.
Once a pair has mated they will work together to repair the nest. The males job is to fly off and look for sticks, which he brings back to the female who uses it to remodel the nest. Sometimes they will take a break from working on the nest to consummate the pairing, but that only takes a few seconds. On my first trip to the park this year, in early March, there were only 3 that had paired up. This weekend when I visited I found that almost every nest was occupied by a pair of herons.