I am having mixed feelings about the magnificent Great Blue Heron that’s been visiting our goldfish pond…

November 29, 2009:

Look at this magnificent Great Blue Heron. He is standing just behind the waterfall of the goldfish pond that my hubby built for me:

Edited to add this picture taken after the next one: (photo taken the next day, November 30)

DSC02737_thumb

My hubby, the best hubby in the history of the world, laid on his tummy and took this picture through our doggie door. (Photo taken November 29, 2009)

Great Blue Heron next to our waterfall

This is the most excitement I’ve had in the back yard for a couple of years. Here are two blog entries about similar events:

I am a birdwatcher, and as such I am VERY EXCITED that a magnificent Great Blue Heron has been coming to our pond the last several days. We live in an expansive, yet quiet, housing tract, near a very busy intersection. This is not the usual habitat for Great Blue Herons….

There are many bodies of water in Oklahoma City, yet this heron has chosen our goldfish pond to hang around by lately. It is quite a complement to my hubby’s craftsmanship.

Here is the original, un-cropped, photo, showing more of the waterfall and pond:

Great Blue Heron near pond and waterfall

Besides being a birdwatcher, though, I am a Pet Mom, and as such I am VERY WORRIED about my pet goldfish.

I don’t know if he has eaten any of my pet goldfish yet. Most of them all look alike, and if there was one missing, I would never know. We have more than fifty goldfish, most of them orange, with some white ones and some black ones. The great majority of our goldfish are the descendants of Rick and Ilsa, our two biggest, and oldest, goldfish.

There are very few goldfish with distinguishing marks allowing us to recognize them. (Rocky Raccoon has white patches around his eyes, for instance.)

Great Blue Herons are long legged wading birds. They wade into a body of water until they can look down and see the fish, they they bend their long neck down and grab a fish in their big beak.

With all the times I’ve seen this heron in our backyard, he has never been standing in the water, just next to the pond. In our pond, the first step is a doozy, as the saying goes…

We have a step, about a foot or so down, all the way around, to make it easier to step into the pond for maintenance. The pond is almost three feet deep.

As much as I love seeing this Great Blue Heron, I want him to go to one of the lakes or rivers in town.

I love you, but please go away…..

X

Edited to add:

November 29: It’s very cold today, so the fish are not moving. I went out and counted them, and only see 27 of them. (they are hard to count when they are all swimming) We had almost 50 the last time we caught them all in order to give the pond a thorough cleaning a few years ago. More have been “born” since then, so we knew we have (had) over fifty by now.

I have to accept the fact that some of our fish have been eaten. Some are trying to hide under leaves that blew into the pond and fell to the bottom. I hope there are more fish that are hiding so well that I can’t see them. I can’t even see Rick and Ilsa. They are our biggest fish. Rick is white, so he would be easy to see. I hope Rick and Ilsa are hiding under the leaves.

I’m on the web researching ways to keep Great Blue Herons away from ponds. Apparently it is a big problem for many pond owners. Herons even take big koi which are hundreds of dollars each. Koi have short tails. We like goldfish with long flowing tails, and they are a lot less expensive.

There are many, many very expensive ways to keep away Great Blue Herons, and none of them work, according to pond community message boards I’ve been searching.

We’ve decided that rather than standing at the window in awe that we are going to teach our doggies to chase the herons away. Maybe that will work.

Wish us luck…

X

Edited to add December 1:

A big Thank You goes out to everybody for all of the suggestions. I appreciate hearing from fellow animal lovers who understand my feelings.

After further researching the topic on the web, discussing at all the available products and options with my hubby, and visiting our local pond store last night, we decided on Pond Netting. The price is more reasonable than plastic herons and motion detector sprinklers (which won’t work here anyway because the water freezes).

Now, we have a physical barrier between my fish and the herons. Unless the herons figure out how to lift the rocks holding it down, and roll it up, my fish will be alright. It’s not pretty, but having my fish survive is more important. Whew. That was fun, {she said facetiously}.

X

Edited to add: Also see this post that has the solution to the problem: That great blue heron is never going to eat my fish again!

X

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19 Comments

Filed under Life in the backyard, Pets

19 responses to “I am having mixed feelings about the magnificent Great Blue Heron that’s been visiting our goldfish pond…

  1. Curtis

    How neat you like in Oklahoma, hey Neiboor! What a pretty bird but he or she might bring more of his friends.

  2. Jen

    It\’s almost as if he\’s been painted into the photograph, he looks so ethereal! Bet he ain\’t really – way you\’re writing about him. Hope the fish stay safe. Howz the house coming along? And Belty. Is he still with you? Hope I haven\’t missed any news? I\’ve been so busy lately.

  3. crestind

    Nice shot! Maybe build some underwater hiding places, so you will get to see the heron and the fish in the future.

  4. Tracey

    Ah, l know your feelings X. An animal lover tends to love them all. Crestind has an excellent suggestion but l would guess that kind of work couldn\’t be done till next spring. Otherwise, as sad as it is to miss out on viewing the wildlife, you need to protect your own. The dogs sound good. Also people noise might disturb him. Good luck with that!

  5. Mandy

    With English Herons, all we do is string some wire about 6 inches off the ground all the way round the pond – the heron won\’t step over the wire (in theory anyway!)

  6. Greg

    If that doesn\’t work, perhaps try a tactful sign, such as "please do not eat the goldfish." Blue herons are regarded as extremely well-mannered birds, and they will generally respect any signage. Just make sure your sign is tasteful and placed at their eye level. Oh, and make sure to thoroughly proofread the content. While herons are polite, they\’re awfully pedantic about spelling and grammar, and they have no qualms about letting you know when you\’ve made a gaffe. 😉

  7. X-Evolutionist

    Thanks everybody for your support and suggestions. I feel a ache in the pit of my stomach for my lost fish. I\’ve watched most of them grow up from itsy bitsy eggs. I\’ve lost at least 15 of my 50 fish, including Rick, Grandpa fish of the pond. Many of the remaining have scrape marks on their backs where they were caught but got lose. My hubby thinks feeding time is sunrise, so I sat at the window and waited. Sure enough, he came, and I ran out, arms flailing like a crazy person. I was going to send the dogs out, but I was in too much of a hurry. He sat on a power pole blocks away, waiting for another chance… Well, back I go to the window. X

  8. Mandy

    Very good Greg lol! Apparently herons don\’t land in the water and can\’t step over something that they can\’t clearly see, you could of course electrify it give it a little zing if it touches it (I\’m kidding) another possibility (my ex with a pond full of Koi, tells me) is, buy plastic heron they are put off by seeing another heron in their patch.

  9. Les

    I see the fish farmers use netting that they stretch over thier large tanks. Seems to work very well, maybe if you did that he would give up after awhile and you could take it off.

  10. Malcolm

    I share the same ambivalence regarding Herons visiting the garden pond – plenty of plants around the ponds edge seem to have resolved the problem! Occasionally the presence of a plastic heron backfires, serving as a marker that proclaims, to the flesh and blood variety, "here\’s a good place to catch a snack!"

  11. X-Evolutionist

    A big Thank You goes out to everybody for all of the suggestions. I appreciate hearing from fellow animal lovers who understand my feelings. After further researching the topic on the web, discussing at all the available products and options with my hubby, and visiting our local pond store last night, we decided on netting. The price is more reasonable than plastic herons and motion detector sprinklers (which won\’t work here anyway because the water freezes). Now, we have a physical barrier between my fish and the herons. Unless the herons figure out how to lift the rocks holding it down, and roll it up, my fish will be alright. It\’s not pretty, but having my fish survive is more important. Whew. That was fun, {she said facetiously}. X

  12. Les

    He won\’t even bother to land once the netting is in place, it was like Macdonalds fast food for him, picking on your fish who never been attacked before. Poor little guys, but on the other hand, the bigger fish must be feeding on the baby fish when ever they hatch eh.

  13. X-Evolutionist

    @Les: About the baby fish: It\’s funny. We never see baby fish until they are bigger than Ilsa\’s mouth (our biggest fish). Suddenly we will see a fish two inches long. Our pond is lined with stones, and there are a lot of hidey holes to live in while they grow. Oh, and the netting floats on the surface of the pond, held securly on the sides with rocks. I don\’t think the heron would notice it from above. I have not seen the heron since yesterday morning when I went out yelling with my arms flailing. Like you said, it was easy fast food. He might not even bother coming back. But, there are other herons, so who knows. Oklahoma City has a LOT of water fowl, more than I ever saw in Southern California where I lived many years. There are a lot of lakes and rivers near here, plus goldfish ponds seem to be popular. X

  14. Les

    Do you feed the fish in your pond?

  15. X-Evolutionist

    @Les: Yes, we feed them a couple times a day in the warm seasons. It is too cold for them to eat now. We love to sit on the bench and watch them as they grow up. As I have said, many of the fish were born in our pond. We\’ve had a lot of babies over the years we\’ve had the pond. Some let me pet them. X

  16. Les

    That is very nice. The netting will save them now from all the birds, give you some peace of mind now… 😉

  17. X-Evolutionist

    I just saw the heron again. He was standing on the waterfall hill looking bewildered as he gazed down at our ice-covered pond. Neener neener, Mr. Heron! I went to scare him away, but he did not want to leave. He stood and posed for a couple of good photos, though. (still in my camera). X

  18. Pingback: That great blue heron is never going to eat my fish again! | X-Evolutionist's Space

  19. Pingback: Bird watching in my backyard – Rats. I came very close to getting a nice picture of a goldfinch | X-Evolutionist.com

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