Is it possible a Great Blue Heron was using a feather to go "fishing" in my pond?


Jeff G

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I live in Western NY and have a ~1000 gallon, dug , unlined, goldfish pond with aerators, sprayers, filters, lights, etc. in my woods. I had dozens of frogs and about 30 goldfish of different varieties and ages that were well trained to come when I approached and offered food. My grandkids loved it! (Note that I am using past tense.)
Recently, I saw a magnificent great blue heron in one of my pine trees in the area. The next morning no fish came to greet me and beg for food. NONE! There were no frogs! NONE! On the surface of the water were a couple of bird feathers. Two of my floating plants were tipped over. I think the culprit is obvious.
I have since:
a) set up motion sensors that ring buzzers in my house
b) placed camouflaged trip wires across the areas the heron is most likely to walk across, and where it would take flight.
c) allowed the water to get cloudy
d) moved hanging plants and opened up the foliage that block the view of the pond 100 yards from my house.
A few fish are visible near the bottom about 5 ft down so the heron did not get them all.

Here's my question. Is it possible the heron was using his feathers as bait to attract the fish?
Do I need to rethink my defensive strategy?

Thanks,
Jeff
 
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lachancesare

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I live in Western NY and have a ~1000 gallon, dug , unlined, goldfish pond with aerators, sprayers, filters, lights, etc. in my woods. I had dozens of frogs and about 30 goldfish of different varieties and ages that were well trained to come when I approached and offered food. My grandkids loved it! (Note that I am using past tense.)
Recently, I saw a magnificent great blue heron in one of my pine trees in the area. The next morning no fish came to greet me and beg for food. NONE! There were no frogs! NONE! On the surface of the water were a couple of bird feathers. Two of my floating plants were tipped over. I think the culprit is obvious.
I have since:
a) set up motion sensors that ring buzzers in my house
b) placed camouflaged trip wires across the areas the heron is most likely to walk across, and where it would take flight.
c) allowed the water to get cloudy
d) moved hanging plants and opened up the foliage that block the view of the pond 100 yards from my house.
A few fish are visible near the bottom about 5 ft down so the heron did not get them all.

Here's my question. Is it possible the heron was using his feathers as bait to attract the fish?
Do I need to rethink my defensive strategy?

Thanks,
Jeff
Heron are the most patient fishers I have ever encountered.
I put cinder blocks on their sides under my pond lillies as a hiding spot. The Heron still visits (and likely gets a meal every time) but only gets a single "shot". I can tell when it visits because the fish won't come when I approach for a day or so.
I don't mind sharing but it always seems to catch the biggest, prettiest one! (But that makes space for the fry to grow)
 

Jeff G

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TurtleMommy... This is not good news. If they can bait fish then I have to do something to make it difficult to do. Maybe I can adjust the fountain to completely cover the surface. I'll lose water when the wind blows, unfortunately. And It will affect my motion sensors.
 
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I'm surprised no one's said it yet; the only sure way to stop heron predation is to completely net the pond, at least 12 inches off the surface. Search 'heron' here and you can join the many who have had an encounter.
 
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addy1

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Three or four year fight with the heron, did everything. The wide weave net about 2-3 feet off the surface finally stopped them coming.
 
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I have read that the herons will stand perfectly still for long periods of time and their legs look like woody plants to the fish. I’m afraid netting is the only way to save your fish. Been there!
 

addy1

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I have read that the herons will stand perfectly still for long periods of time and their legs look like woody plants to the fish. I’m afraid netting is the only way to save your fish. Been there!
I watched the heron attack the pond for years. Studied its moves and tried to figure out how to stop. The only way it stopped was the net.

It would walk in from our field, 45 minutes or so, moving really slow. Then it would walk around the entire pond, another 30 minutes or so moving so slowly. Then it would find a way into the pond, slowly walk in the water, very slowly, stir up the bottom, the fish would come running. Or it would just stand there for one heck of a long time.

I finally gave up all other ways and put the wide weave net (4 inch holes) about 2ish feet over the water surface. It still found a few ways in ducking under the net. Those areas have been fixed. It landed on top of the net pushing it down to the water surface, but too unstable so it did not stay there.

I get a few fish, via eggs, into the small non netted ponds. They make it for a while.

The hot tub pond was emptied of the fantails, by the heron. I had not netted it yet (january) the heron had a nice meal. Now, on that pond, I have deer fencing over it. Easy to push up out of the way, the fantails are safe.
 
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After two years and three generations of undisturbed goldfish a heron apparently came and all but wiped out my fish. They had a deep area, rocks to hide under, and one of the artificial 1/2 log hiding places. Neighbors online with ponds said that there is a recent increase in herons in the area. My pond was not netted as prior to this there was never a predator problem. So far we see only one fish left out of 14 or so. and he is hiding most of the time.

Several pond owners in the area swear that one of those floating alligator heads with the brightly colored eyes has kept herons away from their ponds. I'd never heard of this until I posted my fish loss on a local area website.

So, fact or fiction? On Amazon they are advertised as being intended to keep all sorts of birds especially herons away from ponds.
 
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I live in Western NY and have a ~1000 gallon, dug , unlined, goldfish pond with aerators, sprayers, filters, lights, etc. in my woods. I had dozens of frogs and about 30 goldfish of different varieties and ages that were well trained to come when I approached and offered food. My grandkids loved it! (Note that I am using past tense.)
Recently, I saw a magnificent great blue heron in one of my pine trees in the area. The next morning no fish came to greet me and beg for food. NONE! There were no frogs! NONE! On the surface of the water were a couple of bird feathers. Two of my floating plants were tipped over. I think the culprit is obvious.
I have since:
a) set up motion sensors that ring buzzers in my house
b) placed camouflaged trip wires across the areas the heron is most likely to walk across, and where it would take flight.
c) allowed the water to get cloudy
d) moved hanging plants and opened up the foliage that block the view of the pond 100 yards from my house.
A few fish are visible near the bottom about 5 ft down so the heron did not get them all.

Here's my question. Is it possible the heron was using his feathers as bait to attract the fish?
Do I need to rethink my defensive strategy?

Thanks,
Jeff
I was told make your pond so that its deep with no shallow edges this way a bird can't stand around or walk in to eat fish ete... :) P.S. I'm in Everett, Wa. On the west coast.
 
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A 30 INCH drop from anywhere a heron could stand . down to the waters surface and no areas shallower than 30 inches and herons won't be an issue
 
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addy1

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Several pond owners in the area swear that one of those floating alligator heads with the brightly colored eyes has kept herons away from their ponds. I'd never heard of this until I posted my fish loss on a local area website.
I had two in my pond worked for about a week, then they ignored them. I even had them on fishing line so they floated around. Nope mr heron said fake and went back to fishing.
 

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