It just wouldn’t seem like spring in the pond world without a word on the Great Blue Heron. As water garden koi pond owners, many of us have become familiar with the largest wading bird in North America. Our familiarity doesn’t come by choice for most of us though. Our familiarity with the Great Blue Heron comes by our encounters with this modern Pterodactyl using our ponds as it’s personal sushi bar.
My encounters with this bird have given me a healthy respect for it. My original impressions of this bird were that it must be slow and lumbering because of it’s size. It must be a bit dim witted hanging around our tiny ponds instead of the 10 acre lake next door. And there must not be many of them because I never see groups of them around.
My impressions were wrong, wrong, and wrong. The heron, with its excellent vision and high level of awareness of its surroundings, makes it not only difficult to spot but it also is lighting quick being able to gain distance and altitude very quickly. With these qualities it is no wonder that pond owners often think their fish just disappeared. Pond owners never actually see this huge bird because of its ability to fly away or simply blend in with the background! I have been looking right at a Blue Heron in my pond and not even seen it right in front of my eyes until it moved. So much for the slow and lumbering image of a heron.
I once thought the heron was a somewhat dim-witted bird. It did not take long for the heron to prove me wrong. Great Blue Herons are extremely aware of their environments and carefully survey the area they want to hunt prior to just showing up. If you see a blue heron at your pond, you can be sure that this was not by chance that it showed up. That heron had “cased the joint” carefully watching to see what type of food is available, what type of human activity or other threats are going on, and where is the best access point to your pond. Herons will wait until YOU have gone to work, and then they will go to work on diminishing your pond’s population count. Herons will take the time to figure out ways around fencing, strung lines, and other obstacles. They will also put your pond on their “route”, returning again and again if it is easy pickings. So much for them being big dumb birds.
Now that I have an eye for them, it seems like blue herons are all over the place. Every roadside body of water, every lake, every pond has a heron sitting by it. They are criss-crossing the sky more than airplanes. They are showing up at numerous ponds all over the place; and local rookeries are enjoying a growing population. These birds are busy! These birds network all over the place! So much for the herons being here and there…they’re everywhere!
Fortunately the activity of the Great Blue Heron is at the highest during spring when they have their baby chicks to feed. The predatory level on our ponds seems to have a trend of slowing down dramatically once Summer starts coming around; but we pond owners still need to be vigilant. The most effective protection for your pond is netting, but nobody really wants to have a net on their pond all the time; so be sure to check out all the many other types of predator control. Using decoys, motion detector deterrents, building in fish caves and tunnels, or many other options should all be considered; get a dog!. It is my recommendation to use multiple defenses since there is not one single best defense.
So now that Spring is here, Heron season is on! Make this year the year of growing your ponds population by protecting your pond with heron defenses. We can still win the battle with the local heron population. The more we know about the Great Blue Heron, the safer our ponds are. We are humans and I have great faith in us being the smarter species, please don’t prove me wrong!
All copyrights to this material is solely owned by Mike Gannon.