Conservation Evidence strives to be as useful to conservationists as possible. Please take our survey to help the team improve our resource.

Providing evidence to improve practice

Action: Disturb birds using foot patrols Bird Conservation

Key messages

Read our guidance on Key messages before continuing

Two replicated studies from Belgium and Australia found that using foot patrols to disturb birds from fish farms did not reduce the number of birds present or fish consumption.


Supporting evidence from individual studies


A replicated study from Limburg, Belgium, over 49 nights in 1982-3 (Draulans & Van Vessem 1985), found that using foot patrols to disturb grey herons Ardea cinerea from 12 fish ponds did not necessarily reduce fish consumption. Low frequency disturbance (e.g. 3-5 farmer visits/night) caused a significant decrease in heron numbers but became less effective as heron numbers increased. Reduced numbers did not necessarily reduce fish consumption, as maximum predation occurred soon after bird arrival and disturbance mostly discouraged only well-fed birds from returning.



A replicated trial in New South Wales, Australia (Rowland 1995), found that hanging gill nets in fish ponds and using harassment patrols to deter cormorants Phalacrocorax spp. from fish farms was not effective. This study is discussed in ‘Use in-water devices to reduce fish loss from ponds’.


Referenced papers

Please cite as:

Williams, D.R., Child, M.F., Dicks, L.V., Ockendon, N., Pople, R.G., Showler, D.A., Walsh, J.C., zu Ermgassen, E.K.H.J. & Sutherland, W.J. (2019) Bird Conservation. Pages 141-290 in: W.J. Sutherland, L.V. Dicks, N. Ockendon, S.O. Petrovan & R.K. Smith (eds) What Works in Conservation 2019. Open Book Publishers, Cambridge, UK.