Ducks in the wild are beautiful creatures. People everywhere enjoy going to the lake or river to watch the ducks and offer them birdseed. But just because you like their company in the local park doesn’t mean you want them living in your backyard year-round. Luckily, there are some ways you can prevent them from taking up residence in your pond.
11 Ways to Keep Ducks Away from a Pond:
- Water Features
- A Guard Animal
- Make Good Use of Fishing Line
- Bird Netting
- Motion Activated Repellents
- Pick and Choose Plants
- Cover It Up
- Pond Netting
- Tell Them to Get Lost
Wild ducks can throw your pond completely out of whack and cause significant damage, especially ponds with fish in them. Continue reading below to learn more about the ways you can keep them out of your pond and why it might be beneficial for you to do so.
1. Water Features
A smaller pond may benefit from a water feature or fountain that disturbs the surface of the water. These are most effective in a small pond because they are more likely to cover a greater surface area than they would in a large pond. The more area the disturbance covers, the less likely ducks are to visit and make a home of your pond.
Ducks like things to be nice and calm, so the water feature is disturbing to them. They want to make their home in a place where it’s easy to quietly tread water, eat some good food, and raise their young. When a water feature is rippling most of the water, it’s not nearly as relaxing as a still pond.
When it comes to larger ponds, it’s best to choose another way to keep ducks off your pond. Unless you have a significantly sized water feature, there probably won’t be enough of a disturbance to deter them. In fact, a small area with running water might even entice them to stay longer.
2. Consider a Guard Animal
I know not everyone wants to have a pet. But, if you like dogs, they are especially helpful in scaring wild ducks away from your pond.
Some breeds are better than others at being trained to not eat the fish but to scare the ducks away. You’ll want a breed that isn’t afraid to get wet and is very enegetic.
3. Put Up Fishing Line
String fishing line crisscrossed across your pond. It doesn’t have to be extensive but should go back and forth a few times.
I’ve used this method to keep my chickens safe from hawks and owls. The fishing line becomes nearly invisible to birds in the air.
Ducks fly down into it and because they can’t see it, it scares them. They don’t know where to fly to avoid the fishing line. As a result, they start to avoid the entire pond.
4. Put Up Bird Netting
Bird netting is a little more visible barrier. You can put bird netting over your pond to keep ducks out of the water. Bird netting is made to keep birds away from fruit trees, but it also keeps ducks off of water.
If you have trees or other organic material that gathers in your pond, the netting can help to keep that out of the water also and your water clearer.
5. Motion Activated Repellents
Sometimes a good scare is the best way to keep unwanted visitors away from your pond. Not only will these repellents discourage any ducks from making their home in your pond, but they will also make a useful deterrent for any birds or other predators trying to get to your fish.
A motion-activated sprinkler is the most effective form of repellent. Whenever something gets near your pond and sets it off, it will spray water to spook them. These tend to work the best at keeping animals away. Check out our Best Animal Repellents resource page for my recommended motion-activated sprinkler.
Another form of repellent is a motion-activated sound system. These tools emit an ultrasonic sound wave when they are triggered that is meant to scare off all kinds of pests, even ducks. The problem with these is that the sound it emits may not have the wanted effect on all animals. It can be hit or miss.
It will depend on what other sounds your local ducks have been exposed to. Some wild animals will become used to a wide variety of sounds and won’t be bothered with sound systems.
Having a stand-in of a large predator that ducks are naturally afraid of may just do the job of keeping them from coming close to your pond. They can also prevent other birds from attempting to swoop in and make a meal out of your fish.
Bigger predators are the best bet when it comes to decoys. You will want to use an alligator, a coyote, or a cat, for the best results. These animals will make any ducks that are unfamiliar with your pond wary about getting too close.
On their own, decoys might not be enough of a defense. Ducks aren’t idiots, and eventually they will start to realize that the animals you’ve set up to keep them out are fakes rather than the real deal.
It would be most effective to combine the sight of a predatory animal with the shock factor of a motion-activated repellent to scare them off.
Along the same lines of the previous method, you can always try putting up a scarecrow to frighten any wild ducks away. If you make or buy a scarecrow, it should be brightly colored and have arms that easily move in the wind.
Another form of scarecrow you can employ are simple flags or balloons. Getting balloons with circles in the center that make them look like eyes is an effective method of scaring away birds. As with the decoys, scarecrows will probably work better if you use them along with a sprinkler or sound system.
8. Pick and Choose Plants
Ducks don’t like to stay in areas where the shrubs are tall and block their view of any potential predators. (Except wood ducks who live in the trees.) If you have a garden as well as your pond, you could consider planting some taller shrubs around to discourage them from landing.
You should also resist planting anything that will grow fruits and berries. They make a wonderful food source for ducks and will make the habitat even more appealing for them. The more food they have around, the better off they are.
Strong smelling herbs and plants with spikes or thorns are unattractive to ducks as a food source. Incorporating some of these plants into your garden can help keep ducks away and limit how much food there is to be found.
Plants Ducks Won’t Eat:
- Broadleaf Cattail
- Bushy Bluestem
- Indian Grass
- Lady Fern
- Pickerel Weed
- Rose Mallow
It can be beneficial for you to keep your garden and yard as neat and tidy as possible. If you don’t have any dark, overgrown areas good for laying and hiding their eggs, ducks are less likely to mate in or around your pond. You don’t need a whole family around!
9. Cover It Up
If you live in a place where high temperatures are common, you may want to consider investing in a shade sail. On top of keeping your pond out of sight from above, a shade sail will provide some protection for your pond from the boiling sun. With less direct sunlight you can prevent an overgrowth of algae and give your fish a better place to swim.
Covers are not the best way to prevent ducks because of the way they are made. Their only purpose is to provide shade, not necessarily to protect. Having a shade sail over your pond will keep ducks flying overhead from seeing the water, which means they probably won’t land. However, if they are on the ground, they can still easily access the pond under the cover.
You can easily gain protection from both ducks and the sun by combining a shade sail with pond netting. If you have pond netting already, a shade sail may not be necessary. If you live in a fairly cool place, it won’t help to block off the warmth of the sun from your pond.
10. Pond Netting
Perhaps the best way to keep ducks out of your pond is to use pond netting. This helpful tool is a fine mesh surface for your pond that protects it from falling debris and predators that may try to snap up your fish. It also ensures that any ducks that may come around can’t get into the water, which is essential for them to live.
Pond netting makes a great defense against ducks while still allowing plenty of sunlight through the mesh to your pond. You won’t have to worry about covering your pond with something heavier that may cut off natural resources. It’s affordable and easy to install and keeps your fish safe without sacrificing the view your pond offers.
11. Tell Them to Get Lost
Even with all the above methods, there may be a few ducks that linger. These guys aren’t impossible to get rid of if you put in a little extra effort. If you find that your tactics aren’t keeping them away, you may have to physically chase them away from your pond. Even using a hose to spray at them will usually make them fly off.
Whatever you do, don’t feed them! This will definitely encourage them to come back. Keep an eye on the fish food you leave out. Ducks will often steal fish food while it’s floating, which leaves your fish hungry. Make sure only the fish are getting the food.
If you have pets, you can keep them outside on nice days as further protection. If your dog is running around the yard, a duck is much less likely to want to stick around. It’s as simple as keeping an eye out to make sure ducks don’t take over your pond for their own.
Reasons Ducks are Bad for Your Pond
Ducks may be fun to have around at first. Even if you enjoy their presence, you still have good reason to want to keep them away from your pond. Ducks can cause significant issues to any pond. Over time they can become more of a nuisance than a joy.
Ducks Cause Damage: Any living creature that comes around is bound to cause some kind of damage, to your property. Ducks are very good at it! They are known to pull up and damage plants around ponds. In their search for food, they dig up the dirt and mud around the edges of the pond, leading to erosion of the shoreline.
Ducks Contaminate the Water: If you have ducks living in your pond, you’re going to have ducks pooping in your pond. Duck feces change the quality of your water, and not for the better. They release ammonia and cause the water to become murky over time.
The addition of duck feces, which are a wonderful fertilizer, will accelerate the growth of algae in your pond. It will be a lot more difficult to keep everything clean for your fish and other pond life if there are any number of ducks coming by regularly.
They Can Bring Diseases: Ducks shed their feathers and carry different parasites and diseases on them that can harm the fish in your pond. They are wild animals and can pick up bacteria from all over to bring back to your pond. It isn’t worth the risk to allow them to live in your pond if it means endangering the creatures you put in there yourself.
Ducks Cause Stress to Your Fish: This is most noticeable when it comes to koi ponds. Koi fish need things to be calm and don’t cope well with sudden and chaotic changes to their environment. Putting stress on your fish can cause them to act and look differently. If you have your pond specifically for fish, then ducks are not the ideal visitors.
Ducks Eat Pond Life: Ducks need food. One of the things they are commonly known to feast on are tadpoles and even grown frogs. There is a chance having ducks around will throw the entire ecosystem of your pond out of whack and turn it from a peaceful oasis into their own personal hunting ground.
Ducks Can Be Aggressive: If you have kids or pets that regularly play in the yard and around your pond, ducks can be a hazard to them. Wild ducks are beautiful, but they don’t generally have the best temper. Having ducks around all the time is a cause for concern. It isn’t worth the risk of them attacking anyone.
Ducks May Attract Predators: Having ducks and possibly their eggs around your yard and pond could bring in other unwanted visitors. Common predators to find lurking about looking for a quick snack are cats, raccoons, and even skunks. Keeping ducks away from your pond can keep these other pests from showing up as well.
Most Common Ducks Attracted to Ponds
There are all kinds of ducks across the world, over 100 species. In North America, you are most likely to see certain kinds of ducks flying overhead or wandering into your pond. Knowing what kind of ducks are around and what kinds of habitat they prefer can prove useful in deterring them.
Most of the ducks you come across in North America are probably going to be mallards. They are incredibly common and are well suited to living in ponds. They can survive in just about any habitat that has enough water to support them.
Mallards are easily recognizable by their coloring. The males have a deep green head that makes them stand out among other ducks. They also feature a black tail curve. Females are varying shades of brown but feature a pop of blue on their wings just like the males.
These large ducks are rather tame around humans and enjoy grouping together with others of their kind. They are considered a dabbling duck. If mallards grow comfortable in a pond, chances are they are going to stick around and start a family there.
Wood ducks are unique to look at and make a beautiful addition to any area. They are prone to living in wooded areas with a marshy environment. They nest in trees or nesting boxes high above the ground and have talons strong enough to perch on branches.
Both genders of wood duck have a crest shape that looks a full head of hair slicked back. The males have a green head outlined heavily in white. Females are a warm brown with white markings around their eyes. Wood ducks will regularly produce two broods of ducklings a year.
It’s most common to find wood ducks living among their own in small groups and keeping to themselves. They prefer areas with a lot of coverage from trees or tall grass. It’s difficult for them to find cavities to nest in sometimes, so they will happily take up residence in any nesting boxes that are provided.
These compact ducks live and breed in the upper parts of North America before migrating to the south for the fall and winter. They have a uniquely short, strong bill that makes it easy for them to rip up and eat plants. They have a high ratio of plants in their diet compared to other ducks.
Male and female American wigeons resemble each other closely in their brown coloring. The male stands out a bit more due to the green patches around his eyes and the white crown on top of his head. Females are mottled brown all over.
American wigeons are incredibly vocal ducks when they get together in groups. They like to live in water where plants are numerous so they can tip beneath the water and feast. These unique ducks are also capable of pulling up vegetation from fields.
The northern pintail is an elegant breed of duck that enjoys wetlands and marshes as well as flooded fields. They breed in the north and arrive as soon as the ice begins to break up in April every year.
The male northern pintail can be identified by his incredibly long, pointed tail and the bright white stripe running down his neck. Females are patterned with brown and white with a rather plain tan head. While in flight, you can see flashes of green on a male’s wing when it catches the light.
These ducks are incredibly social and will form large groups. Northern pintails don’t mind associating with other kinds of ducks when it’s not breeding season. They will spend most of their time eating from beneath the surface of the water and picking at the grain in the fields.
A smaller duck, the blue-winged teal is wide-spread around North America and could turn up anywhere. They are notorious for flying long distances during migration. They tend to leave earlier for migration than other ducks.
Male blue-winged teals are mainly brown with a blue-grey head that features a white crescent shape just behind the bill. When they spread their wings to fly, you can see a light blue area on the upper wing. Females are patterned with speckled brown and have a darker line that crosses through their eye.
Blue-winged teals like to stay in pairs or small groups. They are dabbling ducks and eat from beneath the surface of the pond. You can commonly find them hidden in dense vegetation around the edges of bodies of water. They prefer calm, still water.
It’s easy to spot a northern shoveler when you get a look at its big scoop of a bill. These ducks can be found all over North America in shallow wetlands and marshes. They like to eat from the bottom of shallow water, using their shovel bills to find their food.
Male northern shovelers are distinct in coloring with bright white and rust-colored patches. Their heads are dark green, and their bills are black. Females are mottled brown and usually have some light blue coloring on their wings. Their most distinctive feature is their large, bright orange bill.
What makes the bill of a northern shoveler so unique are the small protrusions around the edges. They help the duck filter out the yummy food from the water so they can get a good meal. These ducks are monogamous and form pairs longer than most other kinds of ducks.
Can Ducks be Good for Ponds?
While wild ducks can be detrimental, especially to fish ponds, they can also provide some benefits. If you have a simple natural pond in your garden, you don’t have to worry so much about ducks coming around.
Ducks will eat harmful algae that can take over your pond. They will help to keep it clear of overgrown vegetation. Duck feces also make incredible fertilizer that you can utilize for your garden and lawn to make it grow brighter and greener than ever.
One of the most compelling benefits of having ducks on your pond is that they are good company. With a small pond, you may be able to support a breeding pair and their ducklings. For a lot of people, the chance to watch them grow and thrive is a good enough reason to let them stay.
Allowing ducks on your pond is a good way to support them. Ducks need homes just like all animals, and your garden pond may be perfect for them. You may even find yourself getting attached to the little guys.
What Attracts Wild Ducks to a Pond?
Even if you aren’t looking to draw any new visitors to your pond, it’s a good idea to know what could make your pond more appealing to them. The more you know about attracting ducks, the more you can keep your pond from appealing to them.
First and foremost, ducks depend on water for their survival. If you have a pond, you obviously have water. The more open and easily accessible the water is to wild ducks, the more likely they are to make a home out of it.
Most common ducks prefer shallow water to swim and eat in, but varying depths will attract all kinds of ducks to come for a swim. It’s also important that the sides of the pond are low and sloped so the ducks can easily get in and out of the water.
Having many food sources readily available will make ducks want to make a home out of your pond. They are happy to graze beneath the water’s surface and snack on pond life where they can find it. Food is important to a sustainable life and raising young in any habitat.
Having a feeding platform of some kind is one way to keep wild ducks fed. They will eat birdseed, corn, oats, and other kitchen trimmings without much of a fuss. Any nearby fields with grains growing are going to be subject to their diet as well, especially if the field is flooded.
Floating plants are extremely appealing to wild ducks. Some ducks even nest on plants that are floating in the water. These plants are a food source to some and cover to others. They can also be used in conjunction with cattails and other plants around the edges of the pond to bring ducks in.
Ducks are much more likely to make a home out of your pond if they have somewhere to nest and lay their eggs. There are different kinds of nesting areas that different ducks prefer. Wood ducks only nest up high in trees while blue-winged teals like to nest under cover of vegetation on the ground.
Having plenty of cover in your yard will provide options for ducks to nest near the water. You can even buy some nesting boxes and hang them up for the ducks to be more comfortable. They are a wonderful way to keep the eggs safe from predators.
Lack of Other Animals
One sure way to keep ducks from sticking around your pond is the presence of dogs, cats, or other animals that might pose a threat to them or their eggs. If you keep your pets inside or don’t have any pets at all, you are much more likely to attract these feathered visitors.
Other predators that naturally live in the area can be deterred by fencing, sprays, or owl decoys. If you use sound or water repellents, you will scare the ducks away as well. The safer the ducks feel in your pond, the happier they are to stick around.
Keep Your Pond Safe from Wild Ducks
There is no question that wild ducks can do more harm than good for a pond. If you have a fish pond you will have even more problems should a flock of ducks decide to make a home in your garden. Keeping them out is doable when you take the necessary steps.
Cutting off access to the water is the best way to ensure ducks don’t come calling. Pond netting could be your best friend in the fight against any waterfowl passing through. Even if you don’t want to cover your pond with netting, there are other solutions to your duck problem available.
It’s important to be vigilant when chasing away ducks. If you let them get comfortable or nest in your yard, it’s going to be much harder for you to keep them off your pond. With just the right solution, you will be enjoying your duck free pond in no time.