After investing time, money and effort into building and establishing a garden pond, there is nothing more frustrating than losing one or more of your prized fish to predatory birds. Though a bird attack can happen at anytime, once leaves have fallen, backyard ponds are more visible. In addition, cooler weather will slow down your fish; they are less likely to dart out of the way when a bird comes swooping down. Fortunately, there a few fish pond protection measures that lessen chances you will lose birds to herons and kingfishers, the worst enemies of koi and goldfish.
Design Your Pond to Keep Birds Away
The more opportunities there are for your fish to hide, the safer they will be. Ponds that are at least 30 – 36 inches deep make it much harder for birds to spear or hook fish. Create bridges, ledges and tunnels out of rocks in your pond. This will give your fish hiding places. Aquatic plants also make it more challenging for birds to spy your fish. A pond with all of these features makes a good home for fish.
Install Pond Netting
Though a net to deter birds may not be your first choice for an attractive addition to your garden pond, it is the most effective way to keep out predators. Depending on how much tree and foliage cover your pond has, you may only need to have it in place for fall and winter months. A net can serve double duty by keeping leaves out of your pond during the fall. This helps with water quality and makes your maintenance chores much easier.
Use Decoys to Scare Birds
Lifelike animal decoys can often be used to scare birds away from your pond. Floating alligator decoys are among the most successful and popular for fish pond protection. Just don’t tell the birds that alligators are not supposed to live in your region! Sometimes, bird decoys will even work. Many predatory birds are territorial, so a lifelike heron decoy is likely to keep other heron away.
Put Your Dog on Sentry Duty
Real animals can also be used to scare birds. Having the family dog stay in the backyard is usually enough to keep predators away. For this to be most effective, Fido will need to spend a lot of time outside. When he is inside your home or snoozing in his doghouse, the fish are unprotected.
Bird deterrents that operate on timers are another approach to scare away feathered fish eaters. Spray jets – similar to irrigation heads – that shoot off a few rounds of water every few minutes, noise alarms and flashing lights can all be effective. You probably don’t want these going off when you are hanging around your pond, so remembering to turn them off and on has to be part of the plan.
Any of the above solutions can be successful in scaring away herons and kingfishers. A combination of methods may be the best approach to fish pond protection. Keep the birds guessing! Finally, remember these birds are wild animals doing what comes naturally to them. They do not deserve to be harmed or injured. Your goal is to send them away so they will go fishing in a larger pond, lake or river.