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How to Keep Ducks Out of Your Pool

Matt Giovanisci, Founder and CEO of Swim University By Matt Giovanisci | April 10, 2020

While your kids may find it pretty amusing to walk out and find a small flock of ducks hanging out in the pool, you know better. You know it’s a problem you’re going to have to solve before the kids start naming them, feeding them, and asking if they can keep them forever and ever.

If you’ve never encountered this before, you may be stumped about how to keep ducks out of your pool. Luckily, it’s not really that difficult, and it won’t cost you a lot of money. And you won’t end up with a bunch of ducks as pets.

Why Do I Need to Know How to Keep Ducks out of My Pool?

Other than the obvious answer that ducks just don’t belong in your swimming pool, you do have some compelling reasons for wanting to keep them away.

It’s Unhealthy for You

A lot of wild animals carry diseases, and birds are no exception. Some of the bacteria and viruses spread by ducks and other birds—bird flu, salmonella, E. coli, and others—can make humans sick.

Theoretically, the chlorine (or other sanitizer) in your pool will eradicate those contaminants so you don’t have to worry about infection and illness. But if the chlorine in your pool isn’t at the correct level, it’s not going to be as effective at killing those bacteria and viruses.

Also, some of those things are spread through the animals’ feces. If the ducks poop on your pool deck (so rude!) where there’s no chlorine, and then you accidentally walk in it with bare feet … you see where we’re going.

Your best bet to avoid illness is to keep ducks out of the pool altogether.

It’s Unhealthy for Them

All animals drink water, including the ones that live in it. If ducks hang around in your pool too long, and drink too much water, they could suffer irreparable damage to their kidneys.

Then you’ll need to know how to get dead ducks out of your pool, and that’s even less fun. In fact, it’s no fun at all.

Keeping ducks out of your pool helps them just as much as it helps you.

Why Do Ducks Like Pools?

Well, the most obvious answer is, they’re water fowl, and your pool is full of water. It’s a logical and comfy environment for them.

The other thing is, there are no predators in your pool. No alligators waiting to have duck confit or duck a l’orange. We’re kidding. Alligators aren’t that fancy with their food.

Seriously, though, a swimming pool is a safe place for ducks. They can relax, eat, and do their ducky business without worrying about being eaten. That’s a pretty sweet deal if you’re a duck.

Tell Those Ducks to Duck Off!

You may find that using more than one tactic is your best bet for making sure ducks stay out of the pool. You may also need to deploy your prevention tactics for several days until the ducks learn your pool isn’t as comfortable and inviting as they thought it was.

Keep an eye on the bird traffic, and when you don’t see ducks trying to land in your pool anymore, you should be able to remove the measures you put in place.

Use a Solar Cover

Keep Ducks out with Solar Cover

Putting a solar pool cover out will keep ducks from being able to land and float in the water. If they can’t do that, they won’t stick around.

Plus, the cover will help keep your pool heated and free of debris. It’s a win-win!

Use an Automatic Pool Cleaner

Keep Ducks Out With Pool Cleaner

Ducks are easily frightened. They fear predators, and nothing looks more like a predator than a moving, underwater robotic pool cleaner. Unfortunately, they don’t make any in the shape of an alligator. Maybe someday.

If you don’t have an automatic pool cleaner, a robotic pool cleaner or an above ground pool cleaner (if you have an above ground pool) will work just as well.

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Leave Inflatable Pool Toys Out

Keep Ducks Out with Pool Toys

This is probably the easiest way to keep ducks out of a pool. Keep a few inflatable pool toys floating in your pool when it’s not in use. But not just any pool toys. Get some that look like predators. You can find them in a few varieties, such as:

Let Your Dog do the Work

Keep Ducks Out With a Dog

It’s a pretty safe bet that if any ducks try to land in your pool, your dog is going to bark at them and scare them away. Problem solved! It’s even better if your dog has a view of the pool when he’s inside so he can alert you to the invaders from which he must protect you!

Important: Barking at ducks to keep them out of your pool isn’t a reason to get a dog. A dog (or any pet) is a long-term commitment that requires love, care, attention, and yes, money for food, toys, and veterinary care. Only get a dog (or any other pet) if you’re prepared to make all of those commitments to another living creature deserving of the best care possible.

Use Duck Off

Keep Ducks Out with Duck Off

No, we’re not making this up. A company called Lo-Chlor company makes a pool chemical called Duck Off. It works by breaking the water’s surface tension, which makes it impossible for ducks to float.

But we don’t recommend adding unnecessary chemicals to your pool. This is an absolute last resort if you’ve tried everything else multiple times, and nothing has worked.

How NOT to Keep Ducks Out of Your Pool

The idea is to keep them out, not hurt them.

Fishing Line

You may have seen advice to string fishing line across the surface of your pool. This is dangerous to ducks and other birds.

Because it’s transparent, the line will be invisible on the water. When a duck lands on it, they can become tangled and unable to fly. They could end up injuring themselves or worse, drowning in your pool.

The same is true for any other little critters that may come to your pool for a drink of water. Your goal isn’t to set up a death trap in your pool. It’s to deter the animals from wanting to be there in the first place.

Bird Netting

Avoid this for all the same reasons as the fishing line.

Killing Them

Please don’t do this. They’re just looking for a place to rest, eat, and be ducks. They’re not purposely trying to harm your pool or make your life difficult.

Wild animals live outside. When we clear land and build communities, we’re displacing all the animals that lived there first. It’s only natural that they’ll try to remain in the area they already called home.

When you put a swimming pool outside where the animals live, it stands to reason they’ll see it as part of their environment. They don’t know it’s something to avoid.

If none of that dissuades you from killing ducks (or other birds) you find in your pool, it’s also important to know the United States Fish and Wildlife Service’s Migratory Bird Treaty Act makes killing many birds illegal—including 15 types of duck. Numerous species of bird are protected for one reason or another, including their being on the endangered species list in some cases.

Removing or diverting ducks and other animals from your pool without hurting them is always a much better solution.

Stay the Duck out of Your Pool!

All right, we know. We’re talking about how to keep ducks out of your pool. We just couldn’t resist a little wordplay (that autocorrect never gets old, by the way). In all seriousness, you should have a few good tactics in your pool care arsenal now that will help you keep ducks from setting up home in your pool.

And if you try something that doesn’t work, try two or three tactics together. Whatever it takes to keep the ducks where they belong, and keep both birds and humans happy, healthy, and safe.

Happy Swimming!

Duck photo courtesy of Dave Hosford

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Matt Giovanisci, Founder and CEO of Swim University
Matt Giovanisci is the founder of Swim University® and has been in the pool and spa industry since 1993. Since then, his mission is to make pool and hot tub care easy for everyone. And each year, he continues to help more people with water chemistry, cleaning, and troubleshooting.
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Keep your pool clean and balanced every week. You won't have to worry about your pool anymore. This simple cheat sheet is all you need. And it's free!

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