HOW SOLAR POWER BENEFITS BIRDS
Believe it or not, solar panels actually benefit birds.
Two-thirds of the U.S.' electricity comes from burning oil, coal, and natural gas. These materials combust and release carbon pollution that eventually forms a blanket layer in the atmosphere, trapping in heat. This pollution causes environmental issues across the globe, one of which is forcing birds to find new places to live and feed.
Two-thirds of North America’s birds could face extinction if we don’t find a way to slow rising temperatures, according to the Audubon Society.
Fortunately, solar panels don’t use any coals or natural gasses to produce energy — they only require direct sunlight!
DO SOLAR PANELS ATTRACT BIRDS?
Yes, solar panels attract birds for several reasons.
Birds are often attracted to the reflective surface of solar panels, just as they are with windows.
But they’re also attracted to solar panels for safety purposes. They often find their way under panels to nest and care for their young ones since solar panels facilitate warmth and coverage from weather elements.
DO SOLAR PANELS KILL BIRDS?
Solar panels do not outright kill birds.
However, birds are attracted to the reflective properties of solar panels, which often resemble moving water when flying above. Some birds mistake the panels for bodies of water, and they try to dive into the “water,” which ends up hurting or killing them.
Many researchers state that the birds that try to dive into solar panels are aquatic birds.
Solar systems in residential areas that aren’t too close to large bodies of water won’t experience this issue, but it’s still a possibility. Several researchers are utilizing AI to track and monitor what type of birds dive into solar panels to prevent this from happening.
Regardless of which type of birds are attracted to solar panels, the general consensus is that reports of solar panel-associated bird deaths are exaggerated. Even the National Audubon Society, a non-profit environmental organization dedicated to the conversation of birds and their habitats, supports the use of photovoltaic solar power.
“As with most renewable energy sources, the benefits to birds by reducing carbon emissions outweigh other concerns, as long as the installations are built with care,” according to the Audubon Society.
CAN BIRDS DAMAGE SOLAR PANELS?
Solar panel systems typically have space between the panels and the roof to allow room for wiring and ventilation. Many small animals will nest or seek shelter and safety under solar panels to avoid wind, rain, and hot temperatures thanks to the shading provided by panels.
In addition to building nests under solar panels, birds also often leave bird droppings, broken eggs, and dead chicks underneath. If these continue to collect under your panels, it reduces the airflow needed to prevent your solar panels from overheating.
The bird mess may also flow into your gutters and down the side of your house, causing blockages and an unpleasant sight and smell. A significant infestation can block your gutters and damage your roof within a week if you don’t monitor it carefully.
Bird droppings don’t only happen under your panels, but they can collect on top of them as well. It’s best to clean this off as soon as possible. If you don’t, they can hinder the effectiveness of your panels, and it may be hard to remove once the droppings harden from heat.
DAMAGES FROM OTHER SMALL CRITTERS
Other critters such as squirrels also enjoy nesting under solar panels. They may even try to chew on exposed wires, which can cause your system to run ineffectively.
Not only will this impact the energy generation of your panels, but you’ll also have to pay out of pocket to repair any chewed-up wires. It’s best to inspect your wires as soon as you suspect an infestation issue. Additionally, the presence of nesting materials, leaves, debris, and chewed wires can pose a fire hazard.
SOLAR PANEL BIRD PROOFING
So how do you protect your solar panels from birds? You have several options.
Securing wire mesh to the edges of your solar panels will help prevent birds and other small animals from nesting under your system. This also prevents debris from collecting under or in-between your solar panels.
You’ll need to reach out to a professional to install this type of protection system since solar panels are most commonly installed on roofs and sometimes hard to access.
Roof spikes aren’t the most attractive option for keeping birds away from your solar panels, but they do help.
These spikes don’t hurt birds, but instead make it uncomfortable for them to rest on. This will prevent them from nesting and landing near your panels.
Birds have a hard time distinguishing artificial birds from real ones. Setting up decoys on your roof has a similar effect to putting a scarecrow in a field.
If you set up an owl on your roof with a swiveling head, this is more than enough to scare off birds and keep them away from your solar panels. And while plastic predators might seem old-school, they are very effective at keeping pigeons and other types of birds away.
SOLAR PANEL MAINTENANCE
You’ll want to make sure your solar panels remain as clean as possible to keep birds and critters away from your system.
Cleaning your panels regularly and taking care of any mounting issues or cracks is imperative. Ensure that your panels get the proper servicing and cleanings so they remain up to par.
ADDITIONAL CONSIDERATIONS FOR REDUCING IMPACT ON WILDLIFE
For those who are concerned about the effects that solar panels have on birds and other local wildlife, there are some steps to reduce their impact. For example, the Audubon Society recommends the following:
- Take advantage of rooftop and wall-mounted solar whenever possible to make use of existing infrastructure and avoid habitat disruption.
- Take special precautions when installing large solar panel systems to avoid bird habitat disruption, as well as the likelihood of birds colliding with infrastructure (this includes the panels themselves, transmission lines, and substations).
- Consider growing native plant species around your solar panel installation to benefit birds and other pollinators.
CONTACT LIFESTYLE SOLAR TO TRANSITION TO SOLAR POWER
As it turns out, solar power is helping to create a brighter future for birds, wildlife, and the planet as a whole. Taking special precautions will help minimize the risk of your solar panel system negatively impacting birds and other local wildlife in the surrounding environment.
Ready for solar? Call Lifestyle Solar at 559-228-0229 or visit our website here and one of our solar specialists will be in touch!