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I know we've discussed this before, but we are getting literally crucified by a heron. I thought our ponds were deep enough (and our top pond is), but it is getting into the lower pond and has gotten at least one and maybe some. We have the fake alligator, that's worthless, this is our second heron invasion. Any ideas?
bsavage, you have a very nice looking pond. I have a problem every Spring and Fall too. When I first started water gardening I lost many fish to the herons. I have found the best cure is to net the entire pond for a few weeks. Cosmetically I don't like it but it discourages the heron(s). They tend to stay away because they cannot get to the fish. I always know when the heron(s) have been by the pond because the fish stay at the very bottom of the pond or underneath the bridge that gives them coverage. It also deters the coons that come around too. Hope this helps.
bsavage ,the more places for them to hide the better. You never know when those heron will strike. They are so camouflaged in the trees around my property. I also get the little bird too that someone told me was a kingfisher, he likes the fish too. Keep in touch and let me know how it works out for you.
What do I know? Just a thought. Maybe an alligator in Arizona is a stretch for the heron. What is his natural predator? No idea. But maybe a little investigation would turn up some sort of deterent. Fake snake? Really don't have a clue but you get the jist. Sure hope you are able to find a solution. After watching the building of your pond from the beginning, sure don't want you to have trouble now.
I got the bird nets that you drape over trees, and put them over my pond (floated a couple of beach balls to keep them off the surface of the water) After a few weeks, the herons moved on. They tend to go where they can wade in the shallow water and get to food easily. The nets made it not so easy. They say if you dont have shallow wading areas, they are greatly distracted by steep deep edges. I eventually changed the edges to go straight down instantly, and left only a few plant shelf areas. It has really reduced the problem.
Thanks, all. We only have a small area of plant shelves, but apparently just enough. Lou C... tonight the heron flew over, and it was being chased by one of the hawks that live here! I google info, and birds of prey (including hawks), can go after the heron. Go Hawks!!!
A net of a 4" (?) mesh... as used to make the goal net in soccer always struck me as a convenient predator net to deter herons, suspended 2' over a pond as an effective barrier, not so difficult to stretch over planted areas, fairly easy to put up or put away...
It is hearrt breaking to loss kois to the herons and I say it again that netting is the only way. there are several ponders with nets over their pond and here is mine. Az ponds sells netting and very reasonable. Bellie
Sorry to hear about your Herons. Let me try to explain what I have seen. It is 4 tall poles, 10' or so put in the ground and strong fishing line is strung back and forth across it in a square pattern. It is kept up all year, because it is so tall you can walk under it and its barely visible when you look up. Its cheap to make. Good Luck.
I just use the bird netting for fruit trees for a couple of weeks, they seem to then move on...Every year about the same time, they come back. Herons (and others like them) are not water birds, they are wading birds, so can only handle the shallow water at the edges, and wade into slightly deeper water, but will not get their feathers wet, so basically the depth of their leg length is their max. Deep straight down edges can prevent them entering your pond. My larger pond is now pretty much a heron free zone. Every now and then a heron will attempt to take a fish from the edge, but it usually injures them, but they can't take them. My shallow pond needs the netting from time to time, but I don't leave it on permanently.
Heartbreaking to lose a great fish, but...I have LaserKoi's email, and I order something pretty to replace it!
The "scarecrows" do infact work, against other creatures too...birds, dogs, cats, racoons and possums, kids,lol, etc... It shoots a water jet at whatever crosses the beam...you just attach them to your hose...
We only have a small area where there are shallow plant shelves, heck, it's really hard for us to get in! I think it (the heron) has fallen in during it's efforts. Lots of icky residue on the water surface when it's gotten in... we don't know if that is oil from it's feathers or something more sinister. It has not been in the pond in days now, we didn't see it come by at all today, and I work from home, my computer is right in front of the window looking out at the pond.
Does anyone know a good place to get those water shooting scarecrows?
Funny you should say that! That's how I know someone is missing, the surface oil/goo that's on my pond! It always indicates that the heron was there. He always comes just at daybreak, when the sun is barely coming up, still slightly dark outside...
I've seen the scarecrows on ebay, but have also seen them on the online nursery links. I'll see if I can find a company name for you and attach a link.
Hey brenda, sorry to hear you're getting hit. I, too, would've thought your pond was deep enough to deter them. I've heard stories about herons figuring out those motion sensing shooters.The big problem for you is how out in the open the pond is. Covering is your best bet, something like what bellieg has (very nice btw!) A PVC frame (make it as big as you need to, putting in tee's for reinforcement across the whole things), cover with a nursery netting, or a gazebo built over the whole thing.
I live near the gilbert riparian preserve and have had them visit but never in the pond. I always thought the depth was a factor but I also know the shade thingy around the back keeps them from having a good takeoff because they're so big.
Thanks, Lynn. Yes, we need more cover, that's for sure. Apparently it is getting in at the one shallow area at the end, so if nothing else, I may have to net that area. I think you're right about them not having room to take off from your pond, your shade area and structure are awesome, and I can see how protected they make the pond.
I can still see my kois through the net and it is tall enough to work inside with out bending. My first netting was draped over the pond and when our son visited he made a comment that it was soooo unsightly!! We paid a fortune for it and to cover it that way does not do any justice and so he designed it. Now I can have peace of mind and the herons still come. They are huge!!!! Netting is the only way if you want peace of mind. Good luck. bellie
Good thread... I've had a small (very) pond for only a year now, and have wanted to add some fish but worried I'd lose them to raccoons very quickly. Hadn't thought about birds... I did look briefly but didn't see anything specific to coons. Do most folks use the netting to deter them? Is that enough?
Thanks in advance for any info you can help me with!
I used an 18 inch fence, came in brown or green wire, around the pond twice. Space 2nd one 12 inches apart from the 1st. A heron cannot "step over"! I concealed it with hostas and pachasandra. From as little as 5 feet you couldn't see the fence. Heron used to sit on the porch roof and try to figure out how to get over and finally quit trying.
Bird netting used here also. But in addition to the heron problem, I also get snakes that eat my goldfish and shubunkins. My bird netting is laid on the surface so that it is not horribly noticable and then a couple of glass balls under the net to make sure the net does not sink below surface level.
If all else fails, I have a recipe for "Stuffed Heron"...HaHa!!
I used large fire crackers, M-80s, after 5 of them the heron left and never came back. I lit them and fired them with a slingshot, at him of coiurse.
Awe Darn MerryMary. I've got a raccoon hunting here in the dead of winter. Luckily the koi are laying low in the deepest part of the pond. Next spring it will probably be my turn with heron problems. Lost one fish last year. It's maddening. Hang in there MerryMary.
The weather has warmed up, so the fish are more active now and coming up to bask in the sun around the edge. Doggone herons...before I had koi ponds they were my favorite bird... It was a pretty big koi too, so I hope he didn't just drop it in a neighbors yard somewhere. It was probably 12-14 inches.
Just had a Master Gardener class today on wildlife. Heron problems were a hot topic. According to the wildlife officer there only three ways that work consistently. Net the pond for at least a two week period when they begin to migrate into your area - or crisscross the pond at narrow intervals with fishing line. The easiest method is to tie red and white strips of reflective mylar to stakes in one or possibly two places (more if a large pond) so that the mylar flutters in the wind. The stakes have to be moved to different locations or the herons begin to figure out that they are not a threat. I'm trying to find a source for the mylar.
I, too, have lost many fish to herons. Herons are territorial, so I bought a fake, life size, looking heron and placed it by my pool. This fake heron has to be moved now and then to "look real". I also bought a long, screened tunnel and placed it on the bottom of my pond which is a perfect get-away and a hiding place. These have been in place for over a year and I have lost no fish.
A few months after we got our pond in a blue heron got all my fish. I purchased a plastic heron decoy (at the pond shop) and move him around different areas of the pond every few days. Haven't had any more problems. I understand that herons are very territorial birds. Good luck.
I live on a lake so I'm surprised it took 5 years, but herons finally found me too! I've lost all my larger fish. I'm especially disappointed that the herons got my golden orfes. I haven't been able to find any place that sells them anymore. Although I hate to lose any of my fish, I refuse to net the pond or do the fishing line treatment. I guess I don't like having anything detract from the appearance of the pond itself. I have had good success with a motion activated jet sprayer. I now only lose fish when the sprayer is accidentally left off.
Songs, I am sorry to hear that you have lost some of your fish. I remember how very beautiful your pond is. How about some new pictures? We are re-doing our little tiny pond here in Colorado... it will become more waterfall and less pond. I think we'll be having no more fish. It's a little too heartbreaking for me. Unless I change my mind.
We played golf in one of the 23 clubs that we had played few weeks ago and a lot of the homes back yards had pond less water falls . The designs were all different and enjoyed the sight. Happy ponding!!!! Bellie
13 years in this house and have never seen one. Completely freaked out! My pond is really difficult to get in and out of, deep, sides straight up and down. Surrounded by foot high metal lattice to keep the pups out. Hopefully he realized it was not going to work. If my dear little Spike was still with me he'd take care of that Heron :)
I also have had heron visit my pond even though I live adjacent to the Delaware Inland Bays which are full of fish. I have the heron decoy. My heron thinks its a lunch date. I bought a pair of gator heads this spring. The only things they are good for are conversation pieces and a place for the fish to hide under. I put up netting only in the fall because I live in a wooded area and that helps with keeping leaves out. The ONLY thing that I have found that works is a fountainhead on my secondary pump. I aim the spray to go diagonally across the pond. Heron do not like to get wet so this keeps him from getting into the pond. My pond has steep sides but has a raised plant ledge in the middle. He likes to land on that plant ledge, but with the fountain running, he doesn't even try. I'd rather have the beauty and noise of a spray of water than an net. Good luck with whatever solution you think may work for you. Ponding is a never-ending learning experience.
My first pond is 5 yrs. old. Heron was on yard fence looking down into it and I ran out and shewed it away. Have metal fake one right at that spot. They are down back of our pasture near canal and thats ok but he had better not come back up in front yard now that I have 2 ponds with koi in them. We have what is called great blue herons and they are beautiful but they can lunch someplace else. I have netting because of leaf drop. Both ponds are under oak tree so significant leaf drop in fall. Husb. had right idea. If he ever comes back pop him off and stuff him and put him out near ponds. Lived in our home 43 years and there always has been a few around here but didn't matter until I started bldg. ponds.
I'm not bragging but so far have never lost any fish due to predators. Lost enough to different deseases sure don't want herons too.
Bsavage, sure hope by now you are rid of herons.
Try this: my DH carefully painted a plastic flamingo to match the blue herons here . We placed it by the pond and no more visits, he moves it about once a week, so far all of the fish are safe. the real one, circles and squakes ut does not land.
We too leave our net up for a few crucial weeks in spring. We've found that after a certain amount of time the herons do not pass by our area again for the season.
Also we have created a rock shelter beneath the water for the koi. We used two tall rocks and one large, thin, flat rock on top as the lintel. Think aquatic stonehenge. ;)
It works great and they really seem to like it. You just need to make sure you pick smooth rocks because the koi will try to pack themselves into the shelter like sardines and they can hurt themselves on sharp surfaces. If you don't feel like constructing anything, a lot of pond supply companies sell something called the Koi Castle which also works as a shelter.
I also have felt like shooting the herons when they swallowed 4 of my koi in one landing, but it's worth noting they are a protected species (at least in my area) - so no heron taxidermy allowed. One year the jerks even toppled all of my floating planters so I had to try to vacuum aquatic soil off the bottom of the pond!
Do you have problems in the fall as well with the herons? Seems like that is when I have seen them. Our problem is that we live between 2 rivers so the herons fly from one river over the the other river.
Yes, they do make their way past our house in the fall again (I've seen one on the roof of our garage) but they have not caught any fish in the Fall. We usually have our net up in the fall due to leaves. I think the fish seem to be less wary in the spring and more susceptible to predation.
I was honestly shocked to see our first heron because our house is in a very urban environment but I guess since the Olentangy River is fairly close, it is still appealing to them.
Never in a gazillion years could I imagine such a thing as a Heron in the high desert of Arizona. Thankfully I was already a (recent) member of the water gardens forum when our first "culprit attack" took place a week ago last Tuesday.
I went out to visit the Koi before I left for work. I didn't even notice him 'til I was almost at the pond & suddenly, this monster bird takes flight from the edge of the pond. I was in such shock/panic, I started screaming at the top of my lungs (sure that some of our eleven dear aquatic children had just become this behemoths breakfast...). First my spouse ran out of the house - Then my spouse had the same reaction - and also began screaming! In a matter of moments a neighbor ran over, assuming we'd become victims of a home invasion, she arrived to do what she could to help. While she was relieved that neither of us were being bludgeoned to death, as one of the Koi is her namesake, she too was horrified as we WERE victims of a "home invasion" of sorts. Thankfully, my spouse is a landscaper & can name their own hours...We were also extremely fortunate, as we did have "pond netting" over the area where the Koi are. We had the netting to discourage raccoons and like critters. Again, neither of us had ever conjured a problem such as we encountered that awful morning.
Our neighbor and my spouse immediately used some "portable porch shades" that the neighbor had on their back deck as an interim measure. Given the size of the heron's bill, it was clear that the net would not provide any real protection from the Heron - That bill would puncture the netting w/o any real effort on his part. What the netting DID do for us was that it gave our Koi a little time, as apparently the netting did pose a momentary confusion to the Heron. Also, maniac me must have arrived on the scene very close to when the Heron first arrived. For as we later found out, we did not lose a single Koi. While the spouse and neighbor were working on our "interim fix", I ran indoors & got on the computer assuming I would need to post a new thread titled "Heron". Imagine my surprise, when I saw not only was there a thread already established, how many others - (Yes, even in Arizona!) had similar & in most cases, far worse experiences. I will try to upload a couple of snaps of the "permanent solution" my spouse & spouses' worker spent approximately one and a half-days on building. It may be difficult to tell from the snaps, however, they are six individual "panels" that they built they lay across the top of the pond. We take one panel off when it's just us wanting to feed the "kids" and hang-out and enjoy them a bit. (Though the screen is just large enough on each panel that the 1/4" Koi food will pass through it.) If we are having a large gathering at the house, we will take off all six of the panels - but that is a lot more work, and putting the panels back on after depleting much of one's energy after a full day of backyard entertaining, can become an issue.
However, as I suspect most who subscribe to this forum would agree, if you are not willing to invest both a bit of money and even far more energy, more than likely you have no business getting into ponding, to say nothing of acquiring Koi.
AZRENO & FishKnees - Now that we have our "ultimate defense system" against the Heron Menace (& other critters) we would like to get more Koi in the not too distant future. Are there any sources of good Koi in State that either of you are aware of/recommend?
Your panels are a wonderful idea. My husb. wanted to do same thing. I have bird netting but I don't like it cause it's too flexible. I am thinking hardware cloth stapled to ea. panel with hinges that could be folded back when time for feeding or viewing.
1 heron cleaned out 1/2 of my small pond and was looking into larger pond at big fish luckily I happened out there 1 morning about 7AM. He was so brazen I had too run toward him and chase him off walkway. He is no longer living so if anymore take his place they will get the same thing. I would like to have a system similar to yours for the tremendous amt. of oak leaves I get in pond. I'm sure it would help. The oaks keep the ponds cool which is very important here as we get really hot summers and that causes oxygen drops. So far I haven't lost any fish from it.
Glad you got your problem solved.
Those arch brackets would be good for my smaller pond as the sides are rock and very irregular shaped. Thanks for sharing that idea. It could be made high enough to still be able to get into pond to work on plants or treat sick fish.
I'll double that bird netting and sew it tog. and maybe it will hold leaves out this time.
Schedule 40 PVC should make strong stakes for the sides.
We have given up and closed the pond, Our ages and the feathered pests it it for us. Last summer at one time there were four of them, fish dissapeared, then the ducks came and turned the pond green, and after all of that, we developed a leak, thanks to the herons walking on the liner.
Our local pond guy said I should "shoot them"(the herons). Believe me it was tempting. I miss the pond but I dont miss the "WAR".
Annabelle, maybe you could just pot up some plants and have a water garden. I've seen some that were really beautiful but no fish. That would be a lot less work. I'm 77 and still doing all of yard work plus taking care of ponds. Gluten for punishment but I realize someday I won't be able to do it. Hopefully that's where my grand boys come in. One is almost 16 and loves the fish. Helps his dad and I work on them often. They have some large fish in my pond so don't think they would loose their fish soooooo they will have to take over taking care of them. Right now I am able to do it all thank God. Regarding herons my aim isn't bad either.
Only had 1 visit and he/she ate 1/2 of all fish in small pond. Larger fish he didn't touch but that's probably cause I happened to walk out next to pond about 7:30 1 morning and he was gazing down into it when I shoed him away. If he could carry one of those big fish out of pond he would have a difficult time. Sides are straight and he couldn't wade in which is what they prefer.
I have serious problem with leaves. Bonita on other thread has an arrangement I would like to build. Panels that fold back and should work best. My leaves went through bird netting last year so it didn't help much. Will build something better before next fall.
Good luck to all on stopping the herons and hawks.
Maybe I should knock on wood before saying this but I have never lost a fish to a heron at my present little pond. I always keep at least 75% of the surface covered so the fish are not so visible from the sky. It would be with lily leaves in the warm weather and some kind of floating plant during the colder months. As insurance I have a piece of clay chimney flue pipe on the bottom of the pond so the fish could swim in there to hide if necessary. Interesting part is that there is a rookery within 500' of the pond, Great Blues, Whites and Wood Storks abound here and there are usually dozens of young ones.