There’s nothing more frustrating than hiding or skittish fish. Part of the joy of having a water garden is to sit by the pond’s edge, feed your fish and relax while you watch them enjoy their underwater world. When they dash off and hide at the site of anything coming near them it almost defeats the purpose of having koi or goldfish in your pond! The most common water garden predators are herons and they can clean up in one afternoon. It is important to know your enemy and using the tips below will help to discourage predators from your pond.
IDing a Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Herons’ range covers the entire North American continent. They’re partial migrants; they summer in the upper Midwest and Canada, winter in Mexico and hang out all over the rest of the United States all year long.
Sporting blue-gray plumage with a black stripe over their eyes and a thick dagger-like beak – not to mention a 6-foot wing span and 4-foot-long body – these guys are easy to spot. They stand like statues or walk slowly on long legs as they stalk fish and other prey in freshwater ponds, saltwater wetlands, estuaries, grasslands and fields.
In the air, these big birds fly with slow wing beats, reaching 30 miles per hour and at an altitude of 80 to 90 feet as they scan the land below for reflections in fish ponds. When they find one that looks appetizing, they’ll quietly cruise in and wade like feathered ninjas, waiting for their next meal to hop, walk or swim by. They’ll eat anything within striking distance, from fish and amphibians to reptiles, small mammals, insects and even other birds.
Herons prefer hunting, foraging and dining alone. In fact, they’ll fiercely defend their territory, putting on dramatic displays of dominance should a competitor fly in. They’ll throw their heads back, point their bill skyward and outstretch their wings, chasing the other bird (or human!) away.
Use a Decoy
Your first plan of defense should be setting up a realistic Blue Heron Decoy. Herons 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 will 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 heron decoys during mating season, which runs from March through late May or June.
Make the Pond Perimeter Difficult to Access
Adding additional plants, rocks or objects around the pond perimeter makes it more difficult for predators to walk up and stand next to the edge of your pond. Herons 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 nylon line and stakes – prevents the bird from approaching and protects up to 40 feet of shoreline without blocking your view.
Provide Pond Coverage
Barriers like pond nets, prevent the birds from landing in your water feature and spearing your fish. Planting aquatic plants that cover the surface of your pond will also make your fish difficult to spot. The harder they are to find the harder they are to catch.
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.