Great Egrets Have Arrived?

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Eight Pair of Egret Nests

Great Egret Green Eye-2

Male Great Egret in Breeding Season

The sight of Great Egrets building their nests and creating a colony at Shipley Nature Center is not to be missed. Once a year the graceful birds arrive to build nests and create the next generation.

The breeding plumage and striking green slash from eye to beak are awesome. Watch the birds break sticks from trees and bring them to the bird who constructs the nest. Soon eggs will be placed in the nest and one bird will incubate the eggs while the other hunts for food.

In a few weeks there will be hatchlings who make quite a noise as they insist on being fed. The cycle is all there for us to see on the east side of Shipley Nature

Center. Bring your long lens for the camera and a hat for the sun. One of nature’s greatest gifts is right in our neighborhood.

Walking through Shipley Nature Center is a ‘Sense-sational’ experience.

The sounds of critters skittering in the brush, the fragrance of the Redwoods and Sages, the feel of the breeze on your face, the sight of a Great Blue Heron landing on Blackbird Pond.

What might you look for in the Habitats?

At Blackbird Pond, listen for the Bullfrog and try to spot the Western Pond Turtles. Great Blue Herons, Snowy Egrets and Red-winged Blackbirds forage for food. Dragonflies can be seen skimming the pond surface.

Monarch butterflies are common all year round, but especially in the summer months when the Milkweed is plentiful for them to lay their eggs. The caterpillars eat only the Milkweed, so watch for them and their chrysalises which will turn into the butterflies. Other butterflies, like Swallowtails, Gulf Fritillary, Mourning Cloaks and the tiny Skippers are commonly seen looking for nectar.

On the trails, look for the mounding tunnels of the moles who inhabit the underground world with the gophers. You may come across a Gopher Snake basking in the sun on a warm summer day.

As you walk through the Oak Woodland, watch for the Ground Squirrels and crows harvesting acorns and listen for the Woodpeckers searching for insects in the trees.

Some animals such as the Coyote, Opossum, Raccoon, and Skunk are not out during open hours, but you can still see signs of their scat along the trails, so we know they are here.

The meadows are the playground of the Cottontail Rabbits running among the grasses and Buffalo Gourd. You may see a Red-tailed Hawk circling above looking for his next meal.

The habitats are home to many insects where you can observe spiders, bees, stink bugs, harlequin bugs and many more.

Over 300 bird species have been sighted inside Shipley Nature Center. View the monthly bird count to see the list of current birds.


Native Species Found at Shipley


  • Bull Frog
  • Mosquito Fish
  • Pacific Tree Frog
  • Western Toad


  • Anise Swallowtail
  • Giant Swallowtail
  • Gulf Fritillary
  • Monarch
  • Mourning Cloak
  • Painted Lady
  • Red Admiral
  • Western Tiger Swallowtail


  • Audubon’s Cottontail
  • California Ground Squirrel
  • Coyote
  • Raccoon
  • Virginia Opossum


  • California King Snake
  • Coastal Rosy Boa
  • Pacific Gopher Snake
  • Southern Alligator Lizard
  • Western Fence Lizard
  • Western Pond Turtle


  • Argentine Ant
  • Armored Stink Beetle
  • Black Widow
  • California Oak Gail Wasp
  • Carpenter Bee
  • Cochineal
  • Desert Tarantula
  • Earthworm
  • Honey Bee
  • Hover Fly
  • Jumping Siders
  • Ladybugs
  • Paper Wasp
  • Yellow Jacket

Invertebrates of Blackbird Pond

  • Black Saddlebags Dragonfly
  • Black Swimmer
  • Caddis Fly
  • Crayfish
  • Damselfly
  • Diving Beetle
  • Flame Skimmer Dragonfly
  • Giant Crane Fly
  • Green Darner Dragonfly
  • Water Boatman
  • Whirligig Beetle