NATURAL PREDATOR PROTECTION
Ok, pond owners this is the time of year that we all have to start our vigilance and watch out for herons showing up at out pond. Late winter is always the time of year that the herons start making their patrols in search of that easy meal, of our beloved pets, from our ponds. We all get a bit complacent this time of year in checking our ponds but now is the time to start being a bit more aware of our ponds presence to local herons.
When dealing with heron visits use all means possible as they are very smart birds. A great means of keeping away this pond predator is by use of natural means. Do I mean planting around your pond to limit access? Well, yes, but I also want to suggest something not so often considered in natural predator control. How about the fact that birds all happen to be very territorial. In the northeast United States and other parts a very common bird is the Blue Jay, who happens to be a VERY territorial little bugger, much to the backyard koi pond and water garden owner’s advantage.
We’ve probably all seen at on time or another a mid-air battle between a group of little birds and a sole bigger bird. All the little birds swarm the bigger bird, dive bombing, picking at, feather nipping, head pecking, and chasing; not too mention if you listen, screaming at the bigger bird. These birds, although smaller, mean business and are usually very successful at removing the large invader from their territory. When one tunes in, the politics of the bird world, they pretty much are always chasing each other and trying to dominate territories.
So what does all that fighting do for my pond? What does it do for your pond? Unfortunately this is really not about your pond so much as it is about setting up a desirable area for blue jays to come and nest and defend a territory in your yard, CLOSE to your pond. I am, by luck, fortunate enough to happen to have blue jays that nest in my yard, not because I had enticed them, but simply happened to be the blue jays choice.
I have battled the herons for years now, but came to realize that when the heron was showing up at my pond, the blue jays nesting in my backyard were going absolutely nuts! Screaming like crazy, flashing from tree to tree to tree, screaming!, and blue jays might be small and pretty, but those birds have some lungs, and can really reach some decibels. I have to admit, it took me several times to realize that the reason they were going nuts is that a huge predator, the heron, which WILL prey on other birds, was right in their territory and the blue jays did not know or care that the heron was there for my fish!
I have found the blue jays to be very effective indicators of something going wrong in my backyard, and when I hear them sounding off, I go running to see why my blue jays have gotten their feathers ruffled, and they usually are passing me some pretty good info, and I have thwarted several visits by my local heron thanks to my blue jays.
So, yes, use all the means you can to keep the predators for taking your prized pond fish; but don’t be shy about relying on your neighborhood birds to help predator control too and they can be easily enticed to living right in your yard!
Ironically, on a side note I have very much the same reaction to predatory herons in my yard as birds. I run from room to room screaming at the heron…
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