The Humane Way to Keep Herons Out of Koi Ponds
For those with decorative ponds that contain Koi and other expensive fish, keeping large, long-billed birds from eating them can be a challenge—especially if you don’t want to harm these beautiful animals. Herons and the like often invade backyard ponds during the warmer months looking for a quick meal, a meal that can cost pond owners upwards of $200 each in lost Koi. The large birds can stand over 4 feet tall, with an imposing 6-foot wingspan. Ornithologists note that herons often attack Koi ponds, even in urban areas. So, how do you discourage these birds without harming them? Some suggestions:
Skilled Hunters, Smart Solutions
Herons hunt with great skill and patience, stalking their prey slowly through the water, then remaining motionless until a fish swims by. As noted in a Dr. Foster & Smith Predator Control article, Herons are aggressive fishing machines that can wipe out a pond of Koi in a couple of hours. A quick stab with its sharp bill and the Koi is history. Initial steps to protect costly Koi from becoming a Heron meal include adding floating vegetation and underwater structures for fish to hide under. It’s also a good idea to provide enough water depth if possible. Another way to keep fish safe form herons is to bird-proof the pond by covering it with netting, especially at night. Here are two other solutions that bird control experts recommend:
This device offered by Bird B Gone is designed to keep herons, cranes and other large birds from eating your fish. The specially designed plastic disc system floats just below the water’s surface, providing a safe haven for fish. The 12 interlocking plastic discs create a pleasing geometric shape that offers effective protection against fish predators. The discs are virtually invisible from just a few feet away and interlock in seconds to fit easily into any shape pond. The discs quickly snap together using the supplied clips, and they fit most ponds or water gardens. For best results, use two rows of Pond Defender discs to ensure that birds or cats can’t reach into the pond and attack your prized fish. The discs are also just as easily removed for cleaning. The disks are durable and made of a UV-protected plastic (polypropylene) that even allows plants to grow through its various openings.
This device is very popular and highly effective in keeping predatory birds away from ponds and water features. The Scarecrow features a motion-activated sensor that controls its water nozzle, blasting any curious bird with an “educational” and sobering spray of water. Scarecrows connect easily to any ordinary garden hose and will protect a 1,200-square-foot area (or a 35-foot by 45-foot wide swath), which more than enough for most backyard ponds. Both the Scarecrow’s sensitivity and effective coverage radius are easily fine tuned to the size and shape of a pond.
You can also assign your dog the task of keeping these birds away from your pond–if he/she is vigilant and alert enough to do so.