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As a pond owner of 30+ years, I’ve seen first-hand the effects that bird droppings can have on a pond ecosystem and whilst bird droppings can provide nutrients for aquatic plants and fish, they can also cause a number of major problems if you choose to ignore.
In this article, I’ll explore the pros and cons of bird droppings in a pond and share some tips on how to maintain good water quality especially if birds are treating your pond as the local bathroom.
What does Bird Poop / droppings contain?
Bird poop, also known as bird droppings or guano (for sea birds), is the waste product of birds. It consists of a mixture of faeces, urine, feathers and bits of undigested food such as seed shells etc.
Bird droppings are not all that bad as they contain a variety of nutrients, including nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, which can be beneficial for plants and other organisms in your pond.
However, bird waste does also contain harmful pathogens and contaminants, such as E. coli and salmonella, which can pose a risk to both human and fish health. It is therefore important to manage the bird population around your pond and maintain good water quality to prevent the negative effects of bird droppings on your pond ecosystem.
Is Bird Poo good for my Pond?
Bird droppings contain nitrogen, phosphorus and other nutrients that can stimulate the growth of aquatic plants such as Lilies. However, this is a double edged sword – it can also attribute to the growth of unwanted plants such as Algae and the dreaded Blanket Weed – how to remove blanket weed.
Bird Poo can be beneficial for the overall pond ecosystem, as it provides a source of food for fish and other organisms. Bird droppings acts as a natural fertilizer, stimulating the growth of plants around your pond.
Do my fish eat bird poop?
The short answer is yes. Fish will try their hand at anything (especially Koi), and will often investigate bird poop that has fallen into your pond. Bird waste can sometimes contain undigested food such as nuts which in small amounts will not be overly harmful to your fish.
Why is Bird Poo bad for my Pond?
Excessive bird waste entering your pond water can have negative effects on your pond pond by causing a large build up of organic matter leading to increased and dangerous levels of nutrients. Increased levels of nitrogen can eventually cause algae blooms (known as eutrophication) taking your lovely crystal clear water and reducing it to a cloudy green pea soup.
We all know that if your pond water is unhealthy and unbalanced, not only will your plants start to suffer (lack of growth / no flowers on your lilies), but it can increase fish diseases such as swim bladder, cysts and bacterial infections.
Bird droppings can also introduce pathogens and other contaminants into your pond. We were all taught as kids that birds can carry a variety of diseases, including avian flu, salmonella, and E. coli, which can be transmitted to humans and other animals through contact with bird droppings.
Excessive bird waste can therefore pose a risk to the health of people and pets who use the pond.
How can I reduce the amount of bird poop in my pond?
My years as pond owner I understand that adding a water source to my garden will start to attract “other wildlife” and I don’t necessarily want to stop all birds from entering my garden.
In fact, I dread to think how much I have spent on bird feeders and food over the past 20 years. My Grandma always said it was “lucky” to have a Robin visiting your garden on a regular basis – so here is what I do to ensure both my pond and birds can live in harmony with each other.
Remove Bird Waste from your Pond
The simplest yet most time consuming solution is to actively remove any bird waste from your pond. This is absolutely fine in the summer months when it’s lovey and warm outside – however as I’m writing this in March it’s not really that feasible.
Removing bird waste can be as simple as using a very fine pond net – after removing, I always spray my net down to reduce the risk of contamination.
Add Fine Netting / Mesh to your Pond to prevent birds accessing your Pond
If you’re finding birds are “chilling” around your pond you can add fine netting to prevent “larger bird poop” from entering the water. Pond Netting not only allows sunlight to your pond, but can also protect your fish from other pests such as Rats or other predators such as Cats, Herons etc.
💡 Netting should be raised above your pond water line – this allows your lilies to grow and will keep debris such as leaves / pine needles out of your pond water.
Cutting Back Trees or removing Pond Overhangs to prevent Bird Poop
For several years I had a lovely “Pagola” over my pond. Not only did it look amazing, but plants would grow round the edges and make my pond look very oriental, but it was great to hang some solar garden lights. This came with the unintentional “A cool place for birds to hang out” vibe, which resulted in several pigeons and magpies having a break directly over my pond.
The same can be said for trees with branches hanging over ponds – they are the perfect platform for birds, and therefore increase the chances that poop will enter my pond.
- Cut Back any overhanging Tree Branches to prevent bird waste.
Bird Repellent Devices around your Pond to prevent birds pooping in your Pond
Unless you’re going to completely cover your pond, using bird repellent devices placed around your pond can help reduce the bird population that congregate around your pond. Placing small shimmering ornaments in the trees can “spook” birds and prevent them from spending a penny in your lovely pond water.
Ultrasonic Bird Repeller for preventing birds near your garden pond
Ultrasonic Bird Repeller device, Battery powered portable Bird Deterrent.
If the bird waste is getting too much, then you could install an automated electric ultrasonic bird repeller. The way it works is the device will emit ultrasonic waves and therefore preventing birds from going near your pond (or garden).
Ensure your Pond filters are clean and your water quality is excellent
Finally, it’s no secret that ensuring your pond water is clean and balanced will help your fish grow and your plants thrive. Regularly checking your pond’s water quality using water test kits will not only allow you to make changes for improvement, but can also put your mind at ease when dealing with excessive bird poop in your pond.
If you’re pond has an excellent filtration system, bird poop will not cause any problems.
To summarise, Bird Poop doesn’t need to be a problem for your pond, but if left unchecked can start to cause issues. If you’re noticing that your pond water is starting to look cloudy, or there has been a very quick algae bloom – it’s time to take action.
As previously mentioned, I don’t think an outright ban on all birds is the answer – wildlife should be treated equally. Nothing is nicer than watching a small bird take a bath in your waterfall, or get a drink on a hot summers day – you just need to manage it.