MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Three years ago on Thursday, a devastating tornado ripped through north Minneapolis, tearing up trees, knocking down homes and killing two people.

Damage was estimated at $80 million.

The tornado also destroyed the nesting area for 200 Great Blue Herons.

Dozens of herons died in the storm but the remaining herons relocated about a mile down the Mississippi River on a little island near Xcel Energy’s Riverside Power Plant.

The relocation began that summer and three years later, the rookery is flourishing with 28 active nests, meaning as many as 60 new babies this summer.

“During the summer, the herons that always would come down here and fish off the end of the island, noticed they started carrying twigs down and we started seeing nests appear. So they built a lot of the nests in the summer and fall of that year,” said Ken Beadell, director of Xcel Energy’s Riverside Power Plant.

Bob Anderson, director of the Raptor Resource Project, said it was a major move for the entire colony.

“They are colony nesters, so when they lost their colony there they did move to here,” he said. “And the whole colony moved to this.”

There’s a great vantage point from the third floor of the Xcel building, so they’ve set up a webcam to watch the herons.


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