Earlier this year, May 22nd, a F2 tornado raged through North Minneapolis tearing the roofs off of houses and toppling trees. One person was killed by a falling tree and 30 others were injured. Many houses were damaged by the twister which caused a total of over 166 million dollars worth of damage. However not all of the homes destroyed in the storm belonged to people.
The tornado also hit the North Mississippi Regional Park where a large heron rookery was located. The rookery, pictured above, has provided a safe place for a large number of great blue herons to nest and raise their young for many years. Unfortunately on May 22 that ended. Compare the photo above taken this March as the birds were beginning to nest to the first photo, which is how the rookery looks now.
We were in Yellowstone when the tornado hit. We heard about the storm in the news but did not find out about the rookery until a little while after we returned. It is likely that many of the young heron chicks in the rookery were killed in the storm. The ones that were found still alive afterwards were taken to a local rehab center.
Trees through out the park were splintered and/or ripped from the ground. As I walked though the park I felt as though I was walking through tunnels at several locations, as chunks of trees that had fallen on to the path had been removed to allow people access to the trails.
With so many of the nesting trees gone I wonder if the herons will return to this spot again next year or will it be a tragedy that will continue to be felt for years to come?