Hawks taking Koi

orenthalSeptember 8, 2008

We have had a problem with hawks taking our koi. We are pretty sure of this because my daughter walked out the door a few days ago and saw one sitting on a rock by the pond. Does anyone know the best method to keep them away without putting unsightly nets over the pond? They seem to be taking only the smaller ones around 8" or so.

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Unsightly nets over the pond. You get used to them. We built ours to set fairly low over the water, using pvc pipe and a fine gauge black mesh pulled tightly across. Less sagging makes the net less visible. We have the occasional heron visit, so had to compromise.

We originally made our frame out of copper, which was quite pretty until someone pointed out that the rain would run over the copper and poison the pond. Drat!

    Bookmark   September 17, 2008 at 6:55PM
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Know this post is late but you can string heavy duty fishing line over pond. We used 3 lines over length of pond from water fall to rocks at other end. It worked great and wasn't as ugly as nets. Thanks to Deiter's water gardens and koi ponds for this tip.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2009 at 10:11AM
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sleeplessinftwayne(z4-5 IND)

You might get a dog but it would scare away everything else. The net is probably the only thing that works consistently. My problem has been mostly from herons and that was solved (cross my fingers) by putting out two heron statues. I did try a Scarecrow water cannon that worked quite well but many of the birds set it off on purpose to fly through the spray. Perhaps reflective mylar ribbons would have enough startle effect. One last thought would be to give your fish plenty of hiding places close to the bottom and staggering the times you feed them so they become more aware of possible predators. Good luck. Sandy

    Bookmark   May 5, 2009 at 1:54AM
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teddcandy(z7 VA)

We use two fiberglass tent poles that bend and cross in the middle. Have the black netting over that, keeps out the leaves also. Lost my favorite fish to a blue heron. Had a hawk that was watching them but I don't think he ever got wet.

Good luck

    Bookmark   June 10, 2009 at 3:27PM
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Sorry I'm late getting my opinion out there. Hopefully, you've solved your bird problem... but just in case, here's my response.

First of all - remember this: All raptors (hawks, eagles and owls) are protected by law. We all love our koi, but remain mindful in your options in solving your issue if indeed it turns out the problem is caused by a raptor.

Hawks can take fish, especially red tail hawks, but this is usually only if the opportunities are too great for them to resist. In lakes and streams, low water levels during the summer can trap fish in small pools making them easy prey for hawks. I don't know where you live, but eagles are very well known fish hunters as well, and this is especially true of bald eagles. One thing to keep in mind however is raptors usually like to fly over large bodies of water and Âsnatch an unsuspecting fish from the surface. I've never known them to sit on a bank and work to catch a koi in somebodyÂs backyard. To me, seeing a hawk near your pond is not enough proof of its culpability. IÂve seen smaller hawks standing, watching and bathing on the shore of my pond all summer long, but IÂve never seen them take a fish.

Herons and Kingfishers on the other hand can become a terrible menace to any pond owner, especially the dreaded Blue Heron. These beasts have been known to empty a backyard pond in a single day. In fact, a friend of mine lost all his koi to one Blue Heron in a single weekend while he was out of town. And as if this story wasnÂt terrible enough, all the fish were too big for the bird to eat, but that didnÂt stop him from snatching 18" koi out of the koi and then laying them on the grass when he finally figured out he couldnÂt eat them. My poor friend found all his koi lined up in neat rows when he came home from his business trip.

A previous writer mentioned using two heron decoys or statues. This might work for you, but herons tend to be very territorial and extremely intelligent. If youÂre going to utilize a decoy, then I would suggest using only one (that would seem more natural to a passing heron) and move it around the pond regularly. Keep in mind too the Great Blue Heron is also protected by law.

The best way I have found to deter a heron is with 20 lb fishing line. The secret to keeping herons away is understanding they really donÂt like to land in the water. Instead, they like to land to the side of the pond and then walk in. I have a circular pond with several path lights running around the outside. I string the fishing line to each of the path lights twice (one line high and a second one low) and then between every other path light in the circle. This creates small triangles of line that the heron find extremely difficult to walk through. It doesnÂt look too bad if you use clear fishing line, and itÂs a lot less intrusive to the eye than a net. I hope this helps you.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2009 at 5:48PM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

The hawk was probably thirsty.

They dive for fish from the air, they don't wade after them from rocks or banks.

A heron or kingfisher likely got the missing fish. I once saw a kingfisher grab a 7" shubunkin and swallow it whole before I could even yell.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2009 at 8:34PM
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It is highly unlikely that it was a hawk. With the exception of a coopers hawk that will on occasion take fish, all others are not known to do so. A more likely culpert is the great blue heron, a protected species. Although there are many claims as to how to deter them, they remain a challange. Aside from netting, monofiliment, a dog, about the only other thing that helps (no guarantee) is a water hose connected motion sensor device called a "Scarecrow". The device is readily available on line for about $70. Triangulating with two helps too.

The Koi Farm Inc.
Washingtonville, NY

    Bookmark   August 4, 2009 at 8:44AM
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rosemallow(z7 Md)

I live in Maryland. And it was a hawk that got my Koi. I saw him eating them. I had a net over the pond. He went to one side where there was an opoening and he grabbed the koi.
So do not believe everything you hear.
I saw it with my own eyes.
Hawks do eat pond fish and they will wait by the sides.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2012 at 8:34AM
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jan2(z5 Illinois)

I'm in Illinois. We lost 3 large shubunkin to a hawk a couple weeks ago before I got the netting up. Saw him take the last one and once the netting was up, it came back and swooped at the pond, pulled up when it saw the netting and then flew over a couple of times to check the netting. Rosemallow is right, don't believe everything you hear.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2012 at 3:24PM
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Hawks are more likely in winter early spring when food is scarse - we had a rew wing camping out in our front yard for a few days and you walk up to fairly close before he flew off

    Bookmark   July 26, 2012 at 9:11PM
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Koi disappear in tbe middle of winter!! during the winter I can normally see the koi in the center of the pond, under the waterfall, barely moving for hours due to the cold temperatures. Monday morning I looked outside my window and noticed all 10-12 fish missing. ZERO seen. I run outside and check the filter. 4 fish lay there dying in the filter (we have never found even the smallest fish in the filter, for the large koi to go in there they were surely desperately looking for cover). One 12" koi covered in blood. The large 16"+ koi had his fan tail side fin ripped off. Surprisingly I found the fin OUTSIDE of the pond on the brick! He looked like he was poked in the head. Being the largest fish of the pond but severely beaten up, I was almost positive it was because a heron was not strong enough to lift him out. So I nurse the 4 fish back to life. By the end of the day all 4 seemed like they would live, not sure how long til the stab wounds would become infected and lead to death, but at least live for a little. I then secured the net a little better before bed. I wake up in the morning. SAME PROBLEM! I can't see one fish from our second story window. However, this time I check the filter but there are no fish there! I figured they died and got sucked into the filter, but that was not the case. I walked around the property and did not find any remains. It started snowing at 6am, so by the time I noticed they were gone at 9am, snow covered the ground. There were no animal tracks so it had to occur between the hours of midnight at 6am. We are completely dumbfounded how the net did not appear disturbed. Originally I figured a human stole the fish, but they would not have injured the fish, then returned a 2nd night to get the larger, dying fish. I feel as though a raccoon would have left scraps. A cat would not venture into the water either. Now comes the crazy part. We call my neighbor because he too has a koi pond. He tells us that 2 weeks ago all 30 of his koi disappeared from his pond!!!!! He said originally he figured a human as well, but his dog would have noticed. They he mentions that it may be a weasel or mink! Now living in south central PA (south of Harrisburg) I was unaware that there were minks in the area?? But it makes sense because they could swim in the water to get the fish. However it still doesn't explain why we didn't see any scraps other than the fin of the large koi. Could a heron clean out 2 ponds worth of koi or have you heard of minks eating koi in the middle of winter. Also would a heron feed at night?? Ughhh this is insane.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2013 at 11:31PM
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sleeplessinftwayne(z4-5 IND)

My previous post was a long time ago. Not sure why I didn't come back.

The reason I suggest a pair of heron decoys is exactly because they are territorial. A heron seeing one other heron might investigate to see if it was a possible mate. Seeing two, it would assume a mated pair and they would be off limits. I haven't seen a heron at my pond except for the decoys in 7 years although I often see them at ponds and the nearby river. Usually they are in pairs. The only time you will see groups is when they are wintering far south of here.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 6:17PM
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Barbara Kelly

I had a problem with a Heron eating my Koi, until I covered the pond with one of those nets for fruit trees. The dark color just disappears and nothing gets in, its great for leaves also. My pond is totally in the shade, covered by 3 huge maples in a triangle around the 10 X 10 pond. I haven't lost a fish in over 3 years. Some of my Koi are over 2 ft long. lol I feed them Miraclefood Koi food. Very good stuff.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2013 at 7:42AM
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