Olson’s Island Heron Rookery
Hours are the same as all Minneapolis Parks 6:00 AM to 10:00 PM.
Another Cache in the LIND-BOHANON Neighborhood
The Origin of the Island’s Name
Back in the 1890’ there was a river pig working for the C. A. Smith Lumber Company by the name of Ernie Olson who continually proved himself one of the strongest and hardest working men on the crew. Olson was also one of those Scandinavians who was keen on old world socialism and even more so on temperance. None of these three attributes made Olson the most popular with the rest of the crew. It was said that Olson would drink nothing but spring water from the nearby riverside spring proclaiming that the water’s qualities were responsible for strength and health. Having heard this time and time again day after day the other worker referred to this spring as “Temperance Spring”. It was the C. A. Smith Company that named the island Olson’s Island after Ernie Olson and it has retained that name ever since.
Today, the Great Blue Heron Rookery
This location lends itself to the best photography of Great Blue Herons in the Twin Cities. The Great Blue Herons return on about St. Patrick’s day, about the middle of March. When they return they are usually quite tired and tend to spend the first day or so just above the river on the east side of the island soaking up as much sun as possible. They then move up to the nests and begin the tidying up and mate impressing activities. This is a good time for viewing as they are frequently coming and going gathering sticks and finding just the right location for each one. They then pair up and copulation begins, eggs are laid and egg sitting begins while the leaves have yet to come out. They leaves then come out and it gets a bit dull watching them until towards the end of March when the eggs hatch and once again the comings and goings increase dramatically. Once again the leaves are out now but feeding can be seen on the more visible nests. But this is a special time in and of itself for when the 60 plus nest all have young learning to communicate and hungry as can be the cacophony created it not to be missed. Several weeks later the young will begin to test their wings and flight on the edge of the nest. Later they will venture to the ground and begin to wonder where all the regurgitated good eats that their parents brought back to them actually came from. Although much rarer to see is the very beginning of the young Heron’s beginnings at a life of hunting, what I like to call Stick Fishing. The young will hold tight to the island while developing their motor skills by fishing for sticks and other flotsam. Often times catching a stick, cocking their head while examining it and then releasing it and often times catching the same stick several times over. Then the parents will return and the young will go back to the nest as it seems sticks are less nutritional than the what the parents are bringing back.