I was surprised when posts about ‘bird-proofing’ solar panels popped up in my Linked-in Feed the other day. “Is this really a thing?” I wondered. So I contacted the guy from the pest control company that was offering the service to find out more.
“What damage do birds cause to above-roof solar systems like this? Why don't we see more of this kind of thing? Are birds a problem in only some circumstances or places?”
Kelly Farrant, pest control specialist:
“There are several reasons I get asked to carry out this type of work. Pigeons love solar panels as a place to build their nest as they protect them from the elements and is a safe environment for them from predators and humans. The two biggest complaints I get is first of all the noise, with the pigeons waking the home occupants around 3 or 4 in the morning every day with the bird noises echoing through the loft. The second is the mess they make. A heavy infestation can cause a blocked gutter in a week and over flow of bird mess down the side of the house, not nice if you have a white exterior. It also causes a lot of mess around the outside of the house which can also be very slippery when wet. Another concern is the constant collection of broken eggs and dead chick on the floor where they have fallen from the nest. The final reason although I have not heard it happening yet is a concern that the birds will cause damage to the cables. I have lost count of how many solar panel jobs I have completed this year but I would say it is over 40 with my best month being April when we completed 12 in one month. I hope this helps.”
Other LinkedIn-ers from the Pest Control Industry provided more background.
Mark Porter, Area Surveyor at Servest Pest Control:
“agree with the above. The guano deposited tends to build up & blocks up guttering. They also provide ample nesting sites to female birds looking to shelter the young from the cold & wet. with this comes biting insect activity that feed on the young while in the nest. Bird mite soon then become a problem for the resident when the chicks are strong enough to leave.… “
Barry D Phillips, a Pest Control Training Supplier:
"Everything Kelly just said plus the main issue with Gulls is they are attracted to solar panels as they see the reflection of the sky and mistake them for a pond , lake or other water source. They and Pigeons cause additional damage from via their fouling which is highly acidic and can cause erosion to certain materials and paint / or protective coatings. Gulls also like to drop items onto the ground from height so this explains a lot of the bones etc you may have found on some jobs."
So there you have it, yes bird-proofing solar panels really is a thing.
As if rack-mounted solar panels were not ugly enough already, you now need to cover the edges with a metal mesh to protect yourself from an infestation of pigeons or gulls that will keep you up all night with their noisy parties, fill up your gutters and damage your paintwork with all their poop, leave dangerous slip hazards on your garden path and infect you blood-sucking parasites....
Yet more reason to do the right thing and go for good looking roof integrated solar?