Do Solar Panels Attract Birds?

By Kami Turky

Last Updated:

We turn into solar energy enthusiasts all the time these days and for good reason, too.

Solar panels are a great way to reduce our carbon dioxide footprint and save money on electricity bills.

But have you ever stopped to think about how animals might interact with those shiny little devices?

Do solar panels attract birds?

The short answer is yes. Birds are often attracted to the reflective surfaces of solar panels that look like sky or water.

In this article, I’ll explain why birds are drawn to solar panels, the risks posed by these shiny surfaces, and what you can do to keep birds safe around your own solar setup.

Kew Takeaways

  • Solar panels can attract birds as they might confuse them for water or sky so they fly into them
  • Solar panels don’t kill birds directly, but they might cause serious injuries that can be fatal
  • Injuries resulting from birds flying into solar panels cause up to 138,000 bird deaths per year in the US alone
  • Sometimes birds build nests under solar panels looking for warmth, causing corrosion due to the reduction of the airflow
  • You can avoid birds flying into your panels by removing anything near the panels that might attract them such as TV antennas and poles

Do Solar Panels Kill Birds?

Solar panels don’t kill birds outright, but they can pose a risk to them.

Birds can get confused by the reflective surfaces of solar panels that may look like the sky due to the bright glare they produce.

Some researchers also have hypothesized a “lake effect” where aquatic birds or birds that feed in water can mistake the glare for a body of water, crashing into the panels.

This results in bruising and other injuries that can be fatal.

These collisions can cause up to 138,000 bird deaths per year in the US alone.

Additionally, solar panel systems can displace habitat for birds, either by blocking migration pathways or altering the terrain in ways that make it unsuitable for them.

To track down the effects solar panels have on birds, researchers are currently using AI-powered cameras to observe the behavior of birds around solar energy systems.

This will help us gain better insight into how solar energy affects our feathered friends and what we can do to mitigate any potential risks.

Can Birds Damage Solar Panels?

Birds can damage solar panels in a few ways. Here are the common ways that birds can cause problems for solar systems: 

  • Birds Can Scratch Solar Panels: Although solar panels are super durable, birds can scratch or peck at the surface of solar panels, leaving small dents and grooves that can reduce their efficiency.
  • Birds Nesting: Birds look for warmth and shelter, so they may decide to build nests under solar panels. These nests, bird droppings, broken eggs, and other debris can reduce the airflow under the panels and lead to overheating, causing corrosion and damage.
  • Birds Flying into Panels: When birds confuse the panels for water, they bump into them hard, leaving scratches or broken pieces of the panel.
  • Birds can attract Other Pests: Birds can also attract other pests, like mice, squirrels, or snakes. These critters may find ways to damage the wiring of the solar system.

How to Protect Solar Panels from Birds?

There are many ways to protect solar panels from birds.

For starters, you should avoid installing anything near the panels that might attract birds such as TV antennas, poles, and other structures.

It is also essential to cut back any trees or bushes that might allow birds to land near the panels.

You should keep your garden or yard tidy and free of food sources, such as bird feeders, solar fountains, and other scraps that birds may find attractive.

I clean my garden twice a week to keep it looking nice and to prevent birds from roosting in the area.

I also found it’s a good idea to install a wire mesh between the solar panel and the roof, as this prevents birds from nesting under them.

I’ve tried to install a fake predator, such as an owl, to keep birds away from my solar panels.

I can say it has worked so far, but not all of the birds seem to be scared of it.

Roof spikes can also be used to stop birds from landing near the solar panels.

These spikes are designed to make it uncomfortable for birds to land and can help keep them away.

But I didn’t like the idea of putting spikes on my roof as it’s not very aesthetically pleasing to look at.

Silent ultrasonic bird deterrent devices can be another way to scare birds away from your solar panels.

These devices emit high-frequency sounds that are not audible to humans but can be very effective in keeping birds away.

They also don’t hurt the birds in any way, which is a plus.

FAQs

What Can Destroy Solar Panels?

Many things can damage solar panels, including hail, high winds, physical damage from animals or humans, snow and ice buildup, or exposure to extreme temperatures.

Can I Walk on Solar Panels?

You can walk on solar panels but it’s not recommended as it might break the glass or scratch the surface.

What Is a Bird Blocker for Solar?

A bird blocker for solar is typically a galvanized wire mesh that prevents birds from nesting under the solar panels.

Do I Need to Pigeon Proof my Solar Panels?

You don’t need to pigeon-proof your solar panels but it’s highly recommended.

What Is the Best Bird Deterrent for Solar Panels?

The best bird deterrent for solar panels would be a combination of installing fake predators, roof spikes, and galvanized mesh.

Conclusion

As promised, we have discussed the risks birds pose to your solar panel and ways you can protect them from them.

And if you ask me, I think the wire mesh or silent ultrasonic deterrent devices are the most effective and least harmful to our feathered friends.

But, ultimately, it is your choice to decide which one works best for you.

Do you still have any questions? If so, leave us a comment and I’ll do my best to help you.

Kami Turky

Kami is a solar engineer with nearly a decade of experience in researching, testing, and reviewing various solar products. He has also provided technical consultation to several organizations on the best ways to incorporate solar energy into their operations. When he’s not busy helping others find the best solar solutions, Kami enjoys spending time outdoors, hiking, camping, and exploring the natural wonders of his home state.

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