With the recent energy price hikes announced and the cost of living going up almost by the day, it has never been a better time to consider investing in consumable energy to reduce the cost of living. One of the most common purchases is a bank of solar panels, which will save you money by generating your own electricity using the power of the sun. However, it can bring issues that you may not have considered.
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What Makes Solar Panels The Perfect Home for Pigeons?
Solar panels make the perfect nesting site for pigeons. There are several reasons for this, and it is all to do with the low profile of the panel and how it sits on the roof. The common method of attaching solar panels to a roof involves fitting a rail system onto the roof which the panels are then clamped in place. This creates a space between the roof and the solar panel that is the perfect size for a pigeon to get in and then build its nest. Using the rail, they can build a nest that will support their nest with twigs being bound with their guano which then hardens to give them an area to lay eggs and bring up their young.
Good Weather Protection
Solar panels give pigeons the perfect protection against the elements. Under the panels, they are protected from both the wind and the rain due to the tight fit of the panels to the roofline. Not only this, but the units produce a little bit of warmth as well so, in times of extreme weather such as snow, they will ok under them.
Safety from Predators
As well as protecting them from the weather, pigeons have several predators that would like to eat them as part of the common food chain. Foxes and cats are natural predators as are some of the more exotic birds of prey. The height of the panels creates a natural protection against a lot of predators, but pigeons also must deal with birds such as magpies who like to steal and feast on the eggs and young. This would be easily done if the pigeon lived in a tree, however, under a bank of solar panels the nest is easier to defend. This is backed up by the common number of pigeons that may be nesting under one bank of panels.
Safety in Numbers
Once a pair of nesting pigeons move in then it won’t be long before more follow. Pigeons are cognitive learners, and they will teach others that it is the perfect place to set up home. Added to this is the fact that the more pigeons living in the same environment give better protection both to the swabs and eggs in the nest but also for the juveniles as they progress to young fliers.
What Are The Negatives To Having Pigeons Under Your Solar Panels?
When it first starts, most people don’t mind a pair of pigeons nesting under the panels and it seems ok. However, the perils of pigeons will soon present themselves as time goes by and numbers increase. To date, the largest number of pigeons I have seen under one small bank of panels was in the 50s as it is hard to count them. This will cause you stress, worry and concern which can be averted if caught early.
When pigeons live under solar panels, they make a lot of noise. This ranges from their scrabbling around on the roof tiles to their general communication with one another. In the summer they wake from about 4 am onwards which can be distressing. The noise will reverberate through the loft space and can sound even louder in the rooms upstairs. The pigeons may therefore wake the household long before they want to wake up and cause sleep deprivation for your children.
When it comes to messing then there are two sides to this. Firstly, the more pigeons that are nesting under your panels means more bird waste (guano) the guano builds up in the gutters which then blocks the gutters and also becomes a breeding ground for all types of unwanted pests. A blocked gutter may also result in maintenance issues as water is not being channeled away from the roof. This can cause damp issues if not dealt with properly.
The other side which may be a bit distressing is when young swabs and eggs fall out of the nest. This is a common occurrence so should be expected. Anything that falls from the nest will roll down the roof. This is evident when the pigeons build the nest with most of the twigs ending up on the floor.
Introduction of Unwanted Pests
I have already mentioned the unwanted pests from bird guano in the gutter which can be unpleasant both in smell and the fly numbers created. However, there is something more sinister that could be going on without you even being aware. Bird mite is a blood-feeding insect that lives on pigeons and feeds on pigeons in the nests. They are extremely small and can be transmitted to the house. The more pigeons you have nesting under your solar panels, the more chance you have of contracting this issue.
How Can You Protect Your Solar Panels?
There are a few effective methods that can be used to stop pigeons from getting under your panels. By stopping entry you will cause them to move on to find a new home which is a humane and effective method of control. We would always recommend you seek professional advice because there are all manner of safety issues to consider when carrying out work of this type. If you were wondering about how much it costs to pigeon-proof your solar panels, head over to our latest blog piece on this.
Solar Guard is a product that comes in lengths that can be applied to the edge of your panels and has a line of drop-down pins, evenly spaced to stop access to the pigeons. The only issue with this product is it’s only as effective as the adhesive you use. It can get messy on the edge of the panel but will work. Different variants of the solar guard are coming to market which is good as it’s developing all the time.
Mesh Barrier, which is my preferred method of bird proofing. Mesh is cut to size and attached to the panels using solar clips. There is little mess and if fitted well the mesh blends in with the panels. The downside to this method is it takes longer to install and if you buy cheap plastic clips, they can fail over time due to UV damage.
There are always new products coming to market which may be another option. As long as you create a barrier to stop the pigeon’s access around the perimeter of the panels this should resolve the situation. There are a few things to be aware of. If you screw directly into the panel this may negate your warranty, so always check your agreement before carrying out work. If you are thinking of bird spiking around the perimeter of the panels to stop pigeons from getting in, this is not a good idea as so many fail and it could be an expensive mistake.
The final piece of advice I can give is to do your due diligence when it comes to selecting a contractor if you are going to get someone to do the work for you. Follow the advice of the Trading Standards to ensure the company is professional and knowledgeable in this field. The British Pest Control Association (BPCA) has a find a pest controller page to help you get a local professional pest controller in your area. They are the governing body for pest control so you shouldn’t go wrong.