Heron problems

kkgoodieMarch 31, 2010

I have a very small 11 yr. old pond in our landscaping. We are surrounded by numerous ponds, creeks and a wildlife bird sanctuary. We see herons all over but they never found my pond until this winter. In February we had 22 inches of snow and everything was frozen over except my pond(I use an electric de-icer). I found my 28" 10 year old koi picked apart and lying on the snow bank:( My smaller fish were able to hide I assume. Last week I scared the heron again and he dropped another koi about 50 ft from the pond and I was able to save it.

Is there anything I can do other than keep it covered with netting?? I still can't believe after all these years I am now having issues. The herons travel each day from a large pond across our pasture to a large lake 1 1/5 miles away. We have watched them every day for years. Do you think they will leave my pond alone as the weather gets nicer or am I stuck with netting?

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annedickinson

Kay,

I am so sorry you are experiencing a heron attack. I'm glad you were able to save the one koi. My understanding is that once a heron has had a meal at a pond he/she is very tenacious about re-visiting that pond for more!!

So.... if I were in your position I'd invest in a net. Although they aren't excatly what one wants, they will help protect the pond and fishies.
Anne

    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 6:46PM
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kkgoodie

Thank you Anne for the kind words. It is very heartbreaking to see my pond attacked. I put a net over my pond right after I saved the floundering koi and I haven't seen the heron nearby since, but we are on his/her flight path and see him/her fly over every day like usual. I layed the net and anchored it with stones but now I am wondering how my iris and other tall plants will do. Any other suggestions would be appreciated.
Thanks and happy Spring!!

    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 8:09PM
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jbuda

sorry about your koi. i've had some luck with running fish line around and across my pond. i know they got to the pond but wouldn't step across the fish line. my pond is about 1500-1600 gallons, about 7-8' x 16' or so
jeff

    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 9:32PM
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kkgoodie

Thanks jbuda, I didn't think of fishing line. I have seen that used at the shore in NJ to keep the seagulls away. I'll give it a try!

    Bookmark   April 1, 2010 at 8:08AM
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sara_in_philly

Sorry about your Koi! I just put the net over the iris and other tall plants. As they get taller, they becomes part of the anchor, their leaves will hold the net. Good luck!

    Bookmark   April 1, 2010 at 4:56PM
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mikemerk

Kay,

I feel your pain. I hate those damn terradactyls. Jeff is right, the fishing line solution is a good option. I had to do it on my pond and if you have enough plants, its fairly transparent. Make sure you have it all around the outer edge and I also prefer to criss-cross the line across the water. Notice the large black spikes I have anchored around my pond. This is where I secure the line. I have not had a heron issue since however a wayward duck somehow found his way in.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   April 2, 2010 at 11:02AM
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kkgoodie

Thank you Mike for the picture, it gives me an idea of how to put the fishing line. Your pond is beautiful! What type of spikes did you use and where would I find some? They look nice in the landscaping.
Thanks again.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2010 at 12:32PM
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mikemerk

They are large plastic tree stakes from Home Depot. For each one I dug a hole and poured some quick drying cement in to hold them in place.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2010 at 2:54PM
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rayinmaryland(z7Maryland)

Hi Kay, I have a 3000 gallon pond, 22' x 11' and the Heron flys in every once-in-a-while. So far he has't gone into the pond, which is protected by 40 lb. fishing line. I have 5' iron rods on all four corners, I have 3 fishing lines run 18", 12" and 12". So far it has worked. Last year I netted, which does't look good. Fishing lines look much better. Good luck

    Bookmark   April 6, 2010 at 9:20AM
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diyguy(z4a MN)

Regarding the fishing line as a fence, a fence won't do it. One flap of the wings and the birds can hop over just about any fence. When a Great Blue found my pond and fish last year I lost quite a few in a mater of a few days. I used tapcons (screws for rock and concrete) and attached "D" rings to the rock around the perimeter of the shallow end of the pond. I used 80# braided fish line and fish line clips and wove a spiderweb over the top of the pond. Net varies from 6" to 12" above the water. The net is almost invisable but herons are wading birds. They NORMALY land on the edge and wade into the water. From the ground they can see the net but the surface is shielded so the birds can't walk into the water. Plants grow throught the openings in the web around the perimeter so the web doesn't interfer with the plants. I've had the birds return lots of time and walk around the pond but can't get at the fish. That was last year. Over the winter the ice and snow coverage damaged my web/net and broke a few lines at the "D" rings. The net had dropped down and was laying on the surface of the water. Dear wife decided to protect the fish so they didn't get caught in the lines and cut the complet net off and threw it away. Two days later the Heron returned but no net and presto, several fish disapear. New net is back in place and the Herons are returning daily but so far haven't noticed any loses. We've even seen two birds fly in together and stand side by side at the edge of the pond. Look but no touch. They seem to stare at the pond and net and try and figure out how to get past it, so far so good.
JJ

    Bookmark   April 19, 2010 at 3:50PM
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TrooperRat

My experience with Herons.
I first started noticing that several fish were missing sometime last year. I had no idea what was going on. I had no clue until I came home from work one day, opened the side door of my house where one of my small ponds is located and there it was. It was as surprised as I was and it took off.
I had no clue a Heron would be interested in a small, 400 gallon horse trough pond, but I guess they don't care where dinner comes from.
Once they find your pond, they won't forget where it is and they will be back.
I found a lot of stuff on the internet. I bought a mannequin head, put it on wood with "arms" and put a shirt over it That solved the problem for an entire year until...........I started noticing my fish count being depleted again last week.
Then, 2 days ago, I found half a fancy goldfish laying on the ground. Cleanly cut in 2, it could only be the work of the Heron.
I have 2 ponds, one is in-ground and the other is above ground. The Heron has taken up roost in the top of a pine tree behind my house. I must admit my desire to kill the blooming thing and be done with it, but that wouldn't be legal and probably just a bit selfish. So today, I started the work of protecting the ponds. The in-ground pond is about 250 gallons - I like it, small but I still have some 12 and 14 inch Koi in it (going to have to part ways with them sooner or later, they would be happier in a larger pond I am sure). I installed 4, 10 foot tall posts in the ground shortly after installing that pond almost 4 years ago now and put shade screen on the top to keep out some of the hot sun. So, I wrapped a 2 foot swath of shad screen around the posts today, about a foot off the ground. I am going to put fish line up higher so the thing can't just hit the wings button and fly/hop over the sun screen, though it's about 3 feet at the top.

For the above ground pond, I already have a solution in the making, just going to take another year or so before it's "complete". That would be the Yerba Mansa I am growing in that pond. I got it from another "ponder" a couple of years ago. It grows directly in the water. I put it in a glass container, submerged it and it took off! It's grown into this HUGE plant with shooters coming off of it and growing several smaller plants. I have half the pond protected with it, it's gotten so big there is no way a Heron could fish from the side of the pond there. I am going to grow that yerba all the way around the edge of the pond and that will eliminate the Heron problem. But until that happens, I put up fencing around the exposed side. Tomorrow I am also going to pound some stakes in the ground and put up fish line in front of the fencing so that it will trip over that before it even gets to the fencing issue. I hope it will deal with the problem. I am further going to get a camera and mount it in such a way as to be able to see both ponds with 24 hour recording. I will be able to see if the thing is able to get in there after these remedies I have made and more importantly, HOW it is getting in there so I can fix whatever problems.
I have large dogs that would undoubtedly scare the thing away, but they don't, for whatever unknown reason, like to go to that side of the house. I wish they would just hang out over there! How a Heron would want to land with Great Danes hanging out over there I do not know and doubt it would.
There are other remedies out there, such as the motion activated water spray; Heron decoys (which I am reading have mixed results and shouldn't be placed out there during mating season); rotating owls or other moving, plastic things; and really a host of other remedies (including one dude that thought getting a shotgun and shooting them was a good idea!), but I am hopeful what I am doing will work. As a last resort, I will put netting over the pond, but that is only as a last resort.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2013 at 12:35AM
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