wolfe15136(z6 PA)June 2, 2005

I came home from a three-day weekend, and found my goldfish missing from my tiny little pond. There was an oily haze on the surface of the water, and I've been told that indicates that a heron raided my pond!

In Pittsburgh??? Is this reasonable? Should I replace them, do you think, or will they be eaten again?

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The Great Blue Heron has made a respectable comeback along Pennsylvania waterways, so it'd be reasonable to suspect one might have hit your pond.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2005 at 5:39PM
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lynn_d(Z5 PA)

I have never heard the oily haze theory before but herons are prevelant along waterways. They are the main reason that our large koi pond is under roof, there's a reservoir below our house so they fly over our area. Heron's like to fish early in the morning or at dusk but can appear at about anytime. Once they find a food source they will usually continue fishing it until depleted, after a week or so of finding an empty pond they usually move on to find a new diner.

It's hard to say what really got your fish, there are so many possibilities....raccoons, snakes, kingfishers even bull frogs.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2005 at 10:26AM
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fusty_overalls(z6 PA)

Wolfe, do you live near South Park? I've seen them many times in that swampy area just south east of South Park. I've also seen them in the area around the marina in McKees Rocks...near Brunot's Island. Might be an expensive hobby but, attracting them to your pond is pretty cool.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2005 at 1:48PM
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wolfe15136(z6 PA)

Fusty, I live in Dormont! Concrete and asphalt as far as the eye can see...

I was fond of the little darlins' Expensive ryukins, they were, may they rest in bird...

    Bookmark   June 3, 2005 at 9:11PM
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I never heard that either but I did here it means something died in water.Herons will clean your pond out.I had one that wouldnt leave I sicked my dog on im .He finally left.Yesterday his girlfriend was here.My russell chased it off.I have a huge farm pond go down ,there stay away from koi pond.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2005 at 7:56AM
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We put a pond in last november and within 2 days a heron was searching it! They do leave an oily scum on the water. We now have goldfish and I'm wondering how long they will last. Is there a cure out there to keep them away. My dog isn't out there at dawn, she is in the house. Oh whoaaaaaaa is meeeeee!

    Bookmark   June 4, 2005 at 9:04AM
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String fishing line across the pond. Use stakes that stand about 18 inches tall. Multiple parallel lines work effectively. I'll take a photo of my friend's pond where the heron previously fished out koi and goldfish. It hasn't happened since the fishing line was installed a couple of years ago. This might not be practical for a large pond. Make sure the fish have a rock or something under which to hid.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2005 at 10:50AM
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I put the netting for fruit trees over pond,the heron stood on the netting..

    Bookmark   June 6, 2005 at 7:12AM
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I think we need to get some respect for the natural order of things. Heron are part of it, koi in cement ponds are not. There are plenty of people out there who'd be thrilled to have Great Blues in their backyards. Stringing fishing line is a bad idea, herons, and other birds and animals can get tangled in it.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2005 at 4:52AM
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Fallston_Flower_Lady(z7 MD)

Regarding the dreaded Heron - I had never seen one in my life until we built our pond back in '92. Have no idea how he found it but he had a very nice dinner of my fish! We have since learned to keep the net on the pond until the plants provide enough shelter for the fish! We have seen one make an appearance but he can't get to the fish with the net on.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2005 at 12:09AM
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I agree fishing line is bad idea but you have a koi, goldfish pond in which you spend alot of time,Money,joy in having WHY would you intentionally let heron feed on your fish.Nature?>???I have large farm pond go feed on blue gills etc.They arent gonna feed on my koi.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2005 at 10:15AM
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lynn_d(Z5 PA)

You got that right, bulldinkie! I have a few fairly expensive koi in that pond, at least to me! Regular bird netting may not work with a heron, they will stab the fish thru the net and even tho they may fail to get the fish the stab wound is often fatal. Zigzagging fishing line over the pond horizontally along with making a fishing line 'fence' will help dissuade them.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2005 at 2:41PM
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Heron are protected by both federal and state law. I'd think seriously before doing anything that could harm these magnificent birds.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2005 at 6:29PM
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No body said anything about harming herons just to keep them away from pond.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2005 at 9:02PM
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Getting tangled in monofilament can kill herons, other water fowl, mammals, etc. It's also believed that discarded mono, like what might end up around your property, will exist 600 years. Yes, that is 600 years, before breaking down.

Using fishing line as an anti-predator device is a bad idea, plain and simple.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2005 at 9:30PM
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tmtmom(lehigh co. pa.)

While predators snacking on Koi must be frustrating- to put it mildly- I agree on the dangers of using fishing line for anything except fishing (and maybe not even for that!...) I once rescued a baby Canadian Goose that had become entangled in the nasty stuff; it's leg was horribly damaged and maggot-ridden where the line had wrapped tightly around it, and it died soon after I found it. I've seen other creatures dragging line with attached trash. It's a terrible sight, as you know it will lead to a slow death, and the frustration of being unable to help can haunt you. Not saying anyone should forgo the pleasure of raising a pond full of beautiful ornamental fish!!- just suggesting using caution and responsibility :-)

    Bookmark   July 9, 2005 at 5:57PM
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I live in Greenfield, right above the ol" Mon and yes there are Heron in Pgh. I have seen them down by the river, but I hope that they don't find my pond! In the spring there was a flock of gulls right over my house circleing about. Scared me! I hope that they didn't see the pond either.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2005 at 9:14AM
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lynn_d(Z5 PA)

Frustrating is really not an appropriate description of what one feels if they lose koi to herons. Heartbreaking is much closer, imagine your kitten or puppy turning into dinner for an owl or other predator. Simply from a cost standpoint, some koi cost into the 10's of thousands of dollar range, tho those are not in my pond! In nearly 10 years of this hobby I have never seen nor heard of a heron, or other bird, that ended up entangled in the fishing line. Most koi keepers are animal lovers and would not intentionally endanger any animal, including those that prey on our beloved fish. I would venture a guess that the birds, turtles and other creatures that end up entangled are doing so due to the carelessness of fishermen.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2005 at 10:49AM
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tmtmom(lehigh co. pa.)

I stand corrected in the use of the word "frustrating"! I know how friendly koi are, and can certainly understand that they'd be as emotionally-involving as any other animal that's in our charge and that depends on us for it's very life. As to the carelessness of fishermen: a friend just returned from the Maryland shore, and reported that she found a seabird entangled in monofilament. She had some hot words about the negligence of the fishermen- there are boxes on the beach in which to dispose of used line and hooks yet the area is littered with them. While I'd like to assume that most outdoorsmen are also nature-lovers and take the welfare of all creatures into consideration, it only takes a few uncaring or unthinking "slobs" to endanger wildlife. Grrr!....

    Bookmark   July 21, 2005 at 5:21PM
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tmtmom(lehigh co. pa.)

I just talked to someone who was having heron "problems" in their pond; since they installed a lifesize heron statue, they've had no more unwanted visits. I don't know if herons are particularly territorial and are assuming the pond already belongs to another bird, or if it's a coincidence, but it might be a solution. Disclaimer: please research heron habits before investing in costly bronze statuary for use as a scarecrow (or more precisely a"scareheron") !....

    Bookmark   July 30, 2005 at 7:05PM
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witsend22(6Pa Bedford Co)

it would be my luck i'd get a female statue and end up with 3 or 4 young male heron hanging out fishing out all the fish trying to impress her.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2005 at 10:32PM
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lynn_d(Z5 PA)

Witsend, don't laugh....I have seen pictures of that exact thing.... Normally they ARE very territorial and this is why the ploy supposedly works. Unfortunately there are a few herons out there that don't seem to know this! Bedford County?? You are right down the road from me! I'm in Johnstown.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2005 at 9:34AM
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tmtmom(lehigh co. pa.)

I was just looking through the new Lilypons catalogue and noticed they have very realistic plastic herons and egrets ($59 each) and also a great plastic owl whose head bobs and rotates to scare birds ($35 or 2/#31.00 each)

They also have a "Koi Kastle" which is a tunnel consisting of a frame of aluminum arches, covered with fiberglass mesh (and bearing no resemblance whatsoever to a castle!). Can't tell from the drawing how large the mesh openings are, but it sounds safer for the birds than the monofilament line or netting. It would still be effective for protecting the fish, since I imagine they know to zip into the tunnel if the shadow of a predator suddenly looms over them? It also provides shade. $25 for 9"x18" and $30 for 12"x24"; looks like something you could build much more cheaply yourself without too much effort! Would a tunnel of rocks work as well? I'm picturing piling up small rock walls, then topping with large flat rocks...Oh!- just noticed they have a molded plastic "Faux Rock Kastle" which "resembles rock and blends with natural surroundings". Hm, much as REAL rock might....

    Bookmark   September 12, 2005 at 12:41PM
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I work for a water gardens in Pittsburgh. Heron's have definately become a major problem to pond owners in the past few years. They are not protected....check on the PA webpage for protected species. I have heard of many ways to keep the birds from wiping out your pond. First advice I can give is to give your fish a place to hide. What works well is a 3 or 4" piece of PVC pipe. Hold it down at the bottom of the pond with some rock. Helps hide it but it gives the fish a place to go. Plant cover is key as well. Parrot Feather, Water clover are good ways to help with that. The fishing line also works but it isnt my favorite thing to do. The scarecrow has had good results. It is a motion activated sprinkler...but can be expensive. The decoys also work if moved daily. The heron are smart birds and will notice if the decoy hasnt moved. Rubber snakes work too since the heron dont like them but like the decoy they need moved. Floating alligator heads have had amazing results as well. One couple I talked to had a pink flamingo in their yard that attracted a "mating" heron. It beat up the flamingo pretty bad but the koi are safe and sound...hehe

    Bookmark   September 23, 2005 at 7:37PM
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Boby Huffard

So we weren't crazy! Our kids were leaving our house two weeks ago and turned around to tell us there had been a Blue Heron sitting on our roof. It flew off before we could see it. Do they spend their winters here in PA? When I lived in NJ one used to stop by and rest in a willow tree by our pond for a few days each year. We thought he was migrating somewhere. I have a TINY (and I do mean tiny!) fish pond stocked with cheap goldfish. Guess I should take inventory.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2006 at 8:06AM
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Pipersville_Carol(z6 Bucks PA)

We have a blue heron that fishes in our farm pond regularly. I think they're gorgeous birds, but can understand how it'd be sad to lose pet fish. I've read that they're territorial, so if you've seen one once you'll probably see it again.

Providing shelter for your fish sounds like a really good suggestion.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2006 at 5:48PM
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chescobob(z6b SEPA)

I saw a blue heron today. Unfortunately, I was in the car with my camera. As soon as I got out of the car, it flew off.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2006 at 1:03PM
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Laura4(Z6b MD)

I live near Lilypons and have visited. I have never seen Herons that were so tame. There were quite a few of them and they were close to each other which struck me as strange since they are so territorial. We were able to get very close to them. Now I know why there were so many--they sell Koi there. It didn't occur to me at the time that there was a connection. They have a large pond full of Koi--I wonder how they keep the Herons out. You might consider calling to ask.
I live on a river and see one Heron everyday and he is very afraid of us. Our neighbors have an automatic fish feeder (it's a stocked trout stream) and the Heron hangs out there to eat the fish as they feed.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2006 at 9:15PM
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While living in Oakland, we had a box turtle in our yard, and saw turkey in this little patch of woods near Bates Street, so I can believe there are heron in Pgh. Also saw deer on South side at 2 am.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2006 at 7:16PM
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My friend paid over 450.00 for a fish for her pond.
(I couldn't believe it, she's a little crazy).
A bird ate it.
She has giant pond plants now all over her pond. The birds can't see the fish anymore.
Yes, she went out and spent hundreds more for a new fish.
But it's alive, the pond plants worked this whole summer.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2007 at 10:05PM
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On tuesday i had a blue heron come around.he has visited me alot over the last 5 yrs.we have a net over the pond.well that didn't keep him out.so my dh put plastic lawn chairs in the pond and then covered it with the net.i have never saw a heron this far into winter.in the spring and summer the heron stays away because of our fountains.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2007 at 10:27AM
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pequafrog(z7a/Long Island)

This guy was in my pond last Spring.

After we saw him, we put a picket fence around it and that worked.
Here he is flying off. I think it may be a Heron's cousin, the Egret.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2007 at 3:03PM
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I'm South Jersey- We just upgraded from 3 small preformed ponds too a 11x21.5ft pond 2 weeks ago, while we were digging the hole 2 herons flew over each night-like they knew what we were doing -but we figured because we have outside cats wondering around and a couple dogs in and out , we wouldnt have to worry about our fish....Not so . This past Sunday morning I noticed 2 of my big shubunkins where gone and a few little fish. A small turtle and 2 dozen minnows we had kept in one of the small preformed ponds...I thought coon, cat or those Heron's..we suspected it was a heron- so last night we put up string, criss crossed etc. because that is what we use too keep the geese and swans out of the bogs because they do alot of damage too the cranberry vines on the farm, in the fall and winter-
I also put a blueish grey pelican statue about 3 ft high along side my pond Sunday evening that my dad gave me. No fish were missing Monday morning and none today , however my neighbor called at 6 am this morning because there was a Heron sitting on the peak of our roof...but by the time we got out there he was gone.at least we know what we are dealing with.so whether it's the string, or the pelican statue (the statue was there before the string) keeping him at bay I dont know but am hoping he just finds a new place for breakfast...we are only a couple hundred yards from a creek that goes into a lake and why he would rather eat my poor fish -then get some good crayfish and catfish out of the lake is beside me. I was sick to my stomach all that hard work building a beautiful pond for a lousy bird too come ruin it, but hopefully now we have it under control. Will let you know if he comes back to visit.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2007 at 9:55PM
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WE had a visitor last week in 20 weather. He wounded one of our fish but she did survive. My husband constructed a temp. pond cover maid from fencing and braced with wood. It stands about 5' and is sturdy. This is the first visit we have had after all these years. He came back with a mate, and wasw utterly frustrated as he cannot get in and even spear a fish. The cover works and was inexpensive to make. They cannot damage it.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2008 at 10:42AM
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They are here in the Philly area. Saw a few flying around here this summer!

    Bookmark   December 3, 2008 at 1:53PM
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