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We had a heron last year. How do I stop it from coming back? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: We had a heron last year. How do I stop it from coming back?

Q: We had a heron last year. How do I stop it from coming back?

Vicki- Maryville, TN

A: The bad news is, once a heron knows food is served in your pond, it’ll be back for more. Chances are pretty good that it’ll stop by for a bite to eat when it flies through this year, so be prepared with these surefire heron-proofing devices to keep the sushi lover at bay.

  1. Use a Decoy – Your first plan of defense should be setting up a realistic Blue Heron Decoy. Heron are territorial by nature, and when one cruises overhead and sees that one of its feathered cousins (fake or real) has already claimed the area, it’ll keep going until it finds its own pond to fish. Move the decoy regularly to make it appear even more realistic. Another expert tip: Remove the decoy during mating season, which runs from March through late May or June.
  2. Shore Up the Perimeter – Heron refuse to land in water and hate stepping over wires, so we recommend Heron Stop as a second line of defense around the perimeter of your pond. The impassable barrier – made up of simply nylon line and stakes – prevents the bird from approaching and protects up to 40 feet of shoreline without blocking your view.
  3. Set Up a Motion Detector – For a final layer of protection, set up a ScareCrow® Motion-Activated Animal Deterrent. Thanks to a built-in infrared sensor that detects movement up to 35 feet in front of it and up to 45 feet wide, this heron-scaring tool chases off unwanted visitors with a surprise spray of water. It works both day and night to set boundaries around your water garden or koi pond. But be warned: It doesn’t know the difference between an animal and a human, so you might get wet!

Pond Talk: What tips do you have for keeping herons away from your pond?

Protect Your Prized Fish From Predators - Pond Logic(r) Blue Heron Decoy

Predator Control | Learning Center

There is nothing more frustrating that losing fish to a predator or stepping in bird droppings on your way to your own swimming hole. Knowing your enemy is the best way to determine what control methods you should put in place.

Are you using your pond for fishing, swimming or decorative purposes? Adding decoys will be in your best interest. Between the extra waste and increased weed growth, you know some animals can be problematic.

Don’t wait for a predator to find your pond before utilizing predator control devices. Once geese, swans or other wildlife have claimed your pond as their own, it is difficult to get them to vacate.

Make sure you know your enemy. For example, if you are trying to keep geese out of your pond, you will want to use a swan, alligator or coyote decoy. These animals are naturally unfriendly towards each other. If the geese see one of these decoys as they fly overhead, they are likely to skip over your pond in search for a less crowded water body.
Some animals, like the Blue Heron, compete against their own breed for pond real estate. A blue heron decoy will deter a real heron from landing due to their territorial nature. Just be aware that late April to May (sometimes early June) is mating season. If used too early, your blue heron decoy may attract a heron searching for a mate.
Move your decoys regularly. A stationary decoy will only work for so long before potential predators notice that something’s fishy. Move your decoy regularly to give it a more realistic effect.

Want to learn about specific predators? Check out this article Specific Predator Control.

Specific Predator Control | Learning Center

Now that we learned the basics of predator control, here are some specifics about each nuisance pest.

Geese
Geese have several natural enemies including swans, alligators and coyotes. Using one, a pair or all three of these decoy methods will help to ensure your pond (and the surrounding area) stays geese free all season long.

  • Swans and geese make similar nesting areas (like your pond). Swans are very territorial and aggressive towards geese. Geese will see the swan decoy and fly over to find a less inhabited water body.
  • Using alligator decoys is also an effective method for geese control. An alligator decoy is effective in areas where alligators do not live; the fear of alligators is instinctive, not learned.
  • Geese do not like coyotes. The Coyote Decoy’s 3D build makes it visible from all angles making it superior to silhouette cut outs, not to mention its tail and body will move with the least amount of wind. This movement can be spotted by pesky birds from a great distance away. Nesting birds and other rodents will not want to seek refuge anywhere near your property if they spot this lurking predator in the open!

Blue Heron
Blue Herons compete against their own breed for pond real estate. A blue heron decoy will deter a real heron from landing due to their territorial nature. Just be aware that late April to May (sometimes early June) is mating season. If used too early, your blue heron decoy may attract a heron searching for a mate.

Muskrats
Muskrats can be cute at first as they frolic and play in your water, but beware you likely have a bigger problem than you think. Muskrats wreak havoc on your shoreline by digging tunnels around your pond to the den causing unstable ground. Here are tips to remove them from your pond:

  • Disrupt their diet. Muskrats are mostly vegetarians, eating aquatic vegetation such as cattails, grasses and pond weeds. Although, you may see them munching on snails, crayfish small fish and frogs in some areas. Removing vegetation in and around your pond is a sure way to limit a muskrat’s access to food.
  • Disrupt their environment. Muskrats prefer shallow ponds with still or slow-moving water. Adding an aeration system or fountain will provide circulation and, in most cases, enough wave movement to deter muskrats. You’ll get a cleaner pond out of it too!
  • Remove them from the pond. Muskrats can caught using a live trap baited with apples or other fruits and vegetables. Make sure you do not fully submerge the trap in case other wildlife accidentally becomes trapped. Monitor your traps several times per day. Check with your local DNR to determine rules involving relocating these pests.

Once you’ve trapped and released your muskrats, make sure you cave in their tunnels and den. You may need to backfill these spots with additional dirt or gravel.

Leeches
Leeches can be quite the nuisance pest in a swimming pond, but, thankfully, they do not do much harm. Leeches can be found in most ponds but a healthy fish population can keep their population in check. Redear Sunfish do a great job eating leeches out of their mucky habitat.

If you do not have fish, there are some prevention and removal techniques we can share with you.

  1. Control the muck. Mucky areas are a breeding ground for leeches. Rake out as much muck as possible and use MuckAway™ to reduce muck by up to 5” per year.
  2. Remove weeds and debris. You have the muck under control but what about weed growth? Another hot spot for leeches is among weeds and debris. Raking out weeds and any decaying dead weeds from shallow waters will also keep your leech population in check.
  3. Add fish. Redear Sunfish and Largemouth Bass will help to reduce the overall leech population.
  4. Set a leech trap. Punch leech-size holes in a coffee or aluminum can, bait it with raw chicken or fish and position it in a shallow area of your pond. When the worms go for the grub, they can get in – but not out. The burrs from the whole punch will prevent them from escaping. Remove the can once it’s full and repeat until the leeches are gone.

Will my heron decoy still be useful since it’s getting cold out? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Will my heron decoy still be useful since it’s getting cold out?

Q: Will my heron decoy still be useful since it’s getting cold out?

Mary – Berkeley Heights, NJ

A: To prepare for fall’s and winter’s colder temperatures, you’ve pulled out your decorative fountain, positioned your deep water aerators, added your cold-temperature beneficial bacteria and performed all the other pre-season maintenance chores, but what about that heron decoy? Does he need to be put up for the season?

The short answer: no.

Realistic heron decoys, such as Pond Logic® Blue Heron Decoy, are used to dissuade birds from landing in your pond. Heron are territorial by nature, and when they fly by and see that one of their feathered cousins (fake or real) has already claimed the area, they’ll keep going until they find their own pond to fish.

Heron don’t hibernate, and so seasonal climate changes will trigger these colorful, statuesque birds to fly to warmer environments for several months of the year—which is probably why you’re asking about removing the decoy – but it’s still a good idea to keep that decoy in place.

Why? The foods that carnivorous herons love to eat, including fish, frogs, salamanders, lizards, snake and grasshoppers, disappear or become scarce, particularly in areas that freeze or reach chilly temperatures. As a result, these guys must find other ways to scare up some grub. They fly to a new territory (usually south) for a few months where the eating is good and the weather is warm.

In North America, herons’ range spans the entire United States and the southern regions of Canada, so chances are pretty good that you’ll encounter migrating herons passing over your lake or pond—and looking for some tasty sushi to spear. With your lifelike Pond Logic® Blue Heron Decoy in place, you’ll encourage them to move on and not stop to stock up on their trip south.

Pond Talk: How do you keep your blue heron decoy looking cleaned-up and realistic all year long?

Pond Logic® Blue Heron Decoy - Keep Pesky Herons Away

When Should I Put My Heron Decoy Out? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

When Should I Put My Heron Decoy Out?

When Should I Put My Heron Decoy Out?

Michael – Brenham, TX

Pond owners everywhere use Heron Decoys to protect their fish from becoming a quick meal. While using heron decoys can be a very useful tool for keeping herons at bay, knowing when to actually place them pond-side makes the difference between deterring a predator and attracting unwanted attention.

In the northern hemisphere the heron mating season generally lasts from April to May but can sometimes extend into early June. If used too early, your decoy will actually attract a heron or two as they will be searching for potential mates. Use your decoy at the end of the mating season to give herons the impression that your pond is already claimed. Since herons are territorial they will try to find a pond of their own and move on.

Placement is also important to consider when using the decoy. Herons are smart and patient animals and may investigate your decoy if they find it suspicious. For best results place your decoy at the edge of the pond and move it daily. Make sure the decoy is standing upright and not in any unnatural poses.

I have muskrats, what do I do? – Pond & Lake Q & A

I have muskrats, what do I do?

I have muskrats, what do I do? Geoff – Star Junction, PA

Rats!

When people tell you that digging a farm pond will coax Mother Nature into your backyard you can’t help but get glassy eyed and daydream of giant bucks wandering by to drink from the pond and cute rabbits frolicking by the water’s edge. Now that the pond is in place it seems as if Mother Nature gave you the old “Bait and Switch” as you trip over collapsed trenches in your yard and patch leaky dams caused by muskrats.

Muskrats, at times, can actually be a cool addition to your pond. They will eat some of the weeds that grow around your pond and it is fun to watch them sunbathe and swim around in your pond. However, if it seems like you are spending more time fixing your pond after they wreak havoc on fountain and pump power cords or collapse the perimeter of your pond, then it is time to ask them to move on.

Sometimes ridding your pond of muskrats is a simple as disrupting or removing their habitat. Running an Aeration System in the pond will create a subtle wake that muskrats sometimes find annoying. One of the benefits of aeration is that is also helps reduce and prevent weed growth. If you go around and treat the weeds in your pond this season you will successfully remove some of their habitat and your aeration will help prevent it from growing back next season. There are many tools available to aid in your quest for a weed free pond that range from Aquatic Algaecides and Herbicides, to Lake Rakes and Weed Razers. When possible, fill in or collapse any holes they dig as this can deter them from sticking around as well.

If your resident muskrats are not to keen on picking up subtle hints, then it’s time to get physical. Purchase a Muskrat Trap or two, place them near their tunnels with some bait (apples work well) and wait for them to investigate. Once you have them under lock and key it is time to take them for a long trip to relocate them to a distant pond or lake.

For more information on ridding your pond of muskrats and a couple extra cool facts read back to our previous Blog on the topic.

POND TALK: Do you enjoy seeing muskrats in your pond? If not how did you get them to call someone else’s pond home?

Get rid of muskrats fast!

Is there anything I should do for my pond/lake to prepare it for Spring? – Ponds & Lakes Q & A

Dyed Pond

Q: Is there anything I should do for my pond/lake to prepare it for Spring? – Dan in Illinois

Breaking the Ice on Your Spring Pond Projects
With the sun shining brighter than ever and the snow finally disappearing, most of us pond guys and gals are itching to throw on our waders and dive into our ponds — figuratively of course.

As the Saying Goes, “An Ounce of Prevention…”
Ok, so none of us really want to spend our spring and summer in waders pulling weeds and tending to unruly ponds. So what can you do to ensure your Winter/Spring transition is smooth and enjoyable? As the saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This is especially true in the months to come. Following some easy procedures will keep those waders in your closest and a smile on your face.

Do Your Pre-Spring Cleaning
Walk around your pond and pick up any debris that has made its way into your yard and around your shoreline. If left to sit, this clutter will turn into a food source for algae in the spring. Cut back any weeds or unwanted vegetation growing around the pond while it is still dormant, keeping it from taking over your pond as the temperatures rise. Now is also a great time to inspect and clean your aeration system cabinet and, if the ice has already melted in your pond, the plates as well. This would be a good opportunity to move the plates back to the deeper areas of your pond for summer aeration, if you happened to move them to shallower areas during the winter.

Shaken, Not Stirred
With all of the dye, beneficial bacteria, and occasional algaecides we’ve added to our ponds over the seasons, you just may be qualified to tend a tiki bar at your pond. While your PondClear™ and EcoBoost™ get the back shelf for the winter season, you should be adding dye to your pond year-round as algae can still grow under a layer of ice in the colder months. If you have not been doing so, add your dye now to reduce the amount of sunlight available. Preventing algae growth now will keep you from fighting an algae bloom in the spring. Your PondClear™ and EcoBoost™ treatments should continue once the water temperature is above 50º F. For those of us who suffer from Duckweed, as spring approaches, you will want to have your Sonar™ A.S. on hand and ready to apply come mid-April so it has a chance to go to work and prevent weeds from growing throughout the season.

Take Inventory
Kris Kringle is not the only one checking his list twice over the winter. Pond guys and gals everywhere should be checking their remaining ClearPAC® and necessary weed control products and replenishing these items for the upcoming season. Inspect your tools and decoys to make sure they are in working condition. With everything in working order and ready to use, you are now ready for anything spring sends your way. All that’s left to do now is enjoy your pond!

POND TALK: How do you break the ice on your Spring pond projects? What do you have planned for your pond or water garden this season?

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