Detracting and combatting heron and other predatory birds.
In the fall of 2008, we had a Great Blue Heron visit our breeding pond every day at 6:30 AM. Because you could set your
watch by the timing, we were given a great opportunity to test deterrents. The objective was to find a single item or method that
got rid of the bird without injuring or killing it.
The most effective method would be to cover the pool with a bird net. These are inexpensive and can be found just about anywhere. The
problem is that they detract from the look of the pond at close range. Applied correctly, they are almost invisible from a distance though.
I've heard of people installing the net just under the water level and leaving it there all year. If the nets are a material that does not
decompose and is tight enough to not allow fish to become tangled, I do not see much of a problem with this unless your fish can not reach their food.
This article focuses on other methods and manufacturer claims.
At first, we tried the obvious heron decoy. While this is very lifelike, the only thing it did for us was make us jump every time
we looked out the window thinking that the bird had come back. A waste of money to say the least.
We then moved onto the scarecrow water jet system. To me, this seemed foolproof. I'm sure it scared the bird a bit and certainly
scared our landscapers who complained several times (sorry guys). I had not seen the heron for a couple of days so I thought it was
working until I watched it go off and saw the bird just duck under the stream. We changed the setting to a shorter jet with more residual
spray and that worked pretty well for a day. Again, I sat in the upstairs bedroom to watch the bird land several feet from the pond
then walk so slowly that we could hardly see it moving. It was slow enough to not set off the motion sensor.
Next was a fake fish that floated at the top of the water on a tether. Not sure if that worked but the fake fish is still swimming around and
the bird still returns. I think they are friends now.
Finally, we bought an inexpensive electric fence. Its a single strand of wire that wraps around the pond and gives a mild jolt to a
critter venturing too close... or installers who are curious of how strong it is... or friends of the installer who drink too much.
At first, the heron just stepped over the fence. We raised the level and tried again. The next day, it just flew in and landed on the inside
of the fence. We moved the wire closer to the pond. This time the bird just stood on the far side of the wire and reached over but could not reach
So the final result, lots of money spent and a bird that still returns. I think the solution for us is going to be a combination
of the fence (does not seem to matter if its electrified or not) and the spray gun. Total cost, about $100 and not much impact
on the beauty of the pond.
This year we plan to try chemical deterrents and planting more trees around the pond but i'm open to ideas!
*** Addendum; It has been over a year since we've seen the heron. Apparently the electric fence did the trick. I saw a horse shocked by this fence
that ran and shook it's head for several minutes. These fences are NOT dangerous to people or animals since the shock is delivered using
high volts but not high amps. Plus, if you're wearing shoes with rubber soles they won't affect you at all. I've been shocked by them myself
and would have to agree with the bird, no fish is that important. To be honest though, if my daughter or dogs are playing around the pond, I would rather
have them shocked than drowned.
Ponds and Falls, llc.
12 Heaton St. Rochester, NH 03867
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