Grand River - High-Rise Herons
Big swamp birds thrive in a wetland haven
Attempts in the 1800s to farm the area around Luther Marsh failed because the
land had poor natural drainage. The problem was made worse by the clearing away
of trees and natural vegetation which retain much of the runoff from rain and
melting snow. Flooding became an annual problem.
Construction of a flood control reservoir in 1954 created what is now one of the most significant
inland marshes in southern Ontario. Luther Marsh has since become a valuable staging and
breeding area for waterfowl and other species of marsh wildlife.
Two observation towers allow visitors to view the marsh from a distance without disturbing
the breeding sites of its wide variety of birds. The best way for naturalists to access the
interior of the marsh is quietly — by canoe.
High-rise, artificial, nesting platforms have attracted many herons to the marsh. These
long-necked, long-legged wading birds hunt for small fish, insects, amphibians, reptiles,
and crustaceans in shallow water.
The egret, merlin, osprey, red-necked grebe, canvas back, lesser scaup, and Wilson's Phalarope
are just a few of the 237 species of birds that can be observed in the marsh.
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