As magnificent looking as they are the native British Grey Heron can be a nightmare for those with a fish pond in their garden. These predatory birds have a large appetite for fish and if a heron takes a particular fancy to your pond you had best be on your guard. Of course the best way to stop herons from eating your fish is to try and stop them before they do. This can be done by using a combination of the many heron deterrents available.
In this guide on how to heron proof your pond we will be sharing ten of the best methods to deter these pesky birds.
How To Heron Proof A Pond
Any pondkeeper will tell you that one of the most affordable and effective ways to stop herons eating your fish is to install some pond netting. Due to herons been a wading bird they like to be able to enter the water and stalk their prey. Pond netting is very effective at deterring herons as it creates a pyhsical barrier which prevents them from being able to wade in to the pond.
Another positive to installing pond netting is that it will also help to deter cats and any other would be fish assassin. They are also good at stopping leaves and other debris from sinking to the bottom helping to keep your pond water clean. As standard we recommend installing pond netting as your main line of defence against herons.
A useful bit of information to know for when choosing pond netting is that a heron can fit its head between pond netting that is 5cm from knot to knot. Ideally it is recommended that you use netting that is 2.5 cm from knot to knot to stop them.
Another helpful tip is that herons have a reach of roughly 60 cm so if at all possible try and have your netting this distance or more from the surface of the pond water.
Similar to pond netting using a floating pond protector is another good way to create a physical barrier between herons and your fish. This simple lighweight device floats on the pond surface and features an interlocking design for extra protection and selective placement.
It is worth mentioning that you don’t have to cover the whole surface for these to be effective. Many pond owners place them around the edge of their pond as a means of stopping herons from entering. However, if you are certain that you have a bird eating your fish it might be wise to cover the pond until this is no longer the case.
A pack of 20 costs about £10 and covers roughly 3 sqm. Pond protectors are are super easy to install but the main question to ask is how good are they? Well, they are becoming increasingly popular and customer reviews from previous buyers on Amazon are very positive. The only problem some have with them is that they can look unsightly and take away some of the natural beauty of a pond.
Heron Deterrent Sprayer
By far one of the most fun and effective deterrents against a heron is an automatic sprayer. These handy devices are great for stopping all types of animals but are particularly useful against cats and birds.
The best models feature a motion-sensor that can detect movement from up to 30 ft away. This is usually adjustable with most models meaning you can adjust it to the desired distance. Once activated it will spray a burst of water in an 120-degree arc scaring off any predator.
Simply place in a strategic position near your pond and you will be able to protect all but the very largest of ponds with a single sprayer.
The Defenders Jet-Spray Pond & Garden Protector is the model in the image and is one of the best selling sprayer deterrents.
Another popular method but not quite as fun as the previous one is to place a decoy heron near your ponds edge. Decoy herons are generally made of plastic are very affordable and are a quick and easy deterrent to install.
Due to herons been solitary feeders and prefering to eat alone a decoy can be a good deterrent against the real thing. It is worth mentioning that not all herons will be put off by a decoy. To counter this it is best to combine a decoy with other deterrents.
A good combination among those with koi fish is to use a decoy, pond netting and an automatic sprayer. These three methods are almost certain to put off all but the boldest of these birds.
If a plastic heron decoy doesn’;t have the desired effect at least you will have a nice pond ornament.
Bird Repellant Scare Tape
One of the most common methods gardeners use to deter all types of birds is with objects that reflect sunlight. In times gone by this would usually mean using mirrors to achieve this and some gardeners still do this today.
An alternative to this method and a much safer way is to use reflective scare tape. Scare tape comes in a long roll and can be cut to the desired length and easily tied to the branches of trees or small shrubs.
The tape incorporates a diamond pattern that offers the brighest reflection possible. Herons are susceptible to this deterrent but it is by no means guaranteed to work.
Water Fountain Pump
Installing a water fountain pump is a good way to make it more difficult for herons to spot the fish in your pond. The plume of water that comes out of a water fountain pump creates ripples as it lands on the ponds surface making it harder to determine where the fish are.
The effectiveness of this method is determined mainly by the size of your pond. If you have a small pond the ripples are far more likely to make it harder for herons to see the fish than with a larger pond.
Shrubs and Bushes
When hunting in natural surroundings herons like to have a good all round view to be able to see any danger coming. This natural instinct can be taken advantage of and be used against them tp protect your fish.
The best way is to consider planting tall shrubs, bushes or emergent plants around the perimeter of your pond. This natural barrier is a great way to counter these predator birds without ruining the look of your pond with man-made products.
An additional benefit of this method is that it will help to attract more wildlife to your pond. If you haven’t already built your pond then the plants and shrubs you have surrounding your pond is something you should think about during the design process.
Plants To Provide Hiding Places
Pond plants are another very good and natural way to provide protection for your fish from heron attacks. A pond that provides hardly any cover for the fish inside it is easy pickings for an expert fisher like a heron.
There are a wide variety of pond plants to choose from with some giving better protection than others. Water lillies, Mares Tail, Frogbit and Water Starwort are some of the better ones providing plenty of cover.
Similar to the plants you place around your pond for protection the ones you have inside it should be taken in to account when designing your pond.
Don’t Overstock Your Pond
If you haven’t already built your pond then you should be putting some serious consideration in to where it is going to be. Strategically placing your pond can go a long way in protecting your fish from herons and other predators.