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Friday, June 17, 2011

Decoys: Use Them Discerningly

     Have you ever stared out the window in your house one day while washing dishes, alarmed to suddenly see a large bird heading straight for your backyard pond? Or better yet…seen one conspicuously standing in a tree making sushi out of your favorite koi? Well, do not fear. There are many solutions to guard your prized koi from predators. Decoys, the most common solution, can solve a Heron problem but only if you know how to use them correctly. Most people start out with a decoy before trying any other methods because decoys are…well, more attractive than placing netting over a pond. The trick to using a decoy successfully lies in knowing when and where to use them and for what purpose.

     The entire concept of placing a Blue Heron decoy (or two) near a pond is to prevent rival Heron from landing there. For most of the year, Great Blue Herons exhibit territorial behavior, preferring to stay clear of ponds already being fished by a rival heron. A decoy that is true-to-life can act as a Heron that has claimed the pond as his own. When the weather starts warming up in the beginning of spring, the Heron mating season starts. During this time, a decoy can actually do more harm than good. For instance, if a male heron thinks your heron decoy is a female, he will surely be interested in your decoy. This attracts him to your pond, which contradicts the whole purpose of the decoy to begin with. In order to avoid this problem, you should remove the decoy from your pond area during mating season (early March to late May).

     When mating season is over, you must move the decoy around your pond.  Staking the Heron decoy in one place permanently will not be helpful in establishing your pond area as the decoy’s own territory. Herons are actually a lot more intelligent than we think. In addition, you should make sure your decoy looks exactly like a Blue Heron. Someone’s ornamental, abstract form of art does not qualify as a decoy; moreover, crane statues do not work. If your pond is fairly large, it may be in your best interest to buy a pair of heron decoy. As far as placement goes, place the decoy(s) near the pond’s edge or standing in the water. For the record, it is a federal crime in Georgia to shoot a Great Blue Heron. If you use a Heron decoy wisely, you will never have to go to this extent.

     Fortunately, there are other types of decoys available for ponds. The alligator, being a realistic enemy of the predator birds, is a great addition to any pond. An alligator decoy may be used for both floating in the water and on land. The least popular decoys available are replicas of koi and goldfish. Blue herons will stand completely still in the pond, while waiting for a fish to swim near. They will go after the floating decoys first, since they are much easier to attack. The attack will create a splash that scares the koi, giving them enough time to venture deeper inside the pond to hide. If the heron takes the decoy, then the joke is surely on him.

References:
"Blue Heron Decoy-Pond Scarecrow -Racoon-Pond Decoy-Animal-Bird Control." Koi Pond Pumps-Pond Filters-Pond Supplies-Fountains-Fish Supplies. Web. 04 Mar. 2011. .
"Decoys for the Pond - Use Them Wisely." The Pond Doc's World - Loaded with Information! Everything Koi Pond and Water Garden Related with Added Home and Garden and Personalized Products. Web. 04 Mar. 2011. .
"The Great Blue Heron." The Pond Doc's World - Loaded with Information! Everything Koi Pond and Water Garden Related with Added Home and Garden and Personalized Products. Web. 04 Mar. 2011. .
"Scarecrow Sprinkler vs. Blue Heron Decoy." Pond Supply Blog. Web. 04 Mar. 2011. .


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