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Advice please, re; wild pigeons & solar panels

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Old Friday 14th September 2018, 10:41   #1
Dee33
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Advice please, re; wild pigeons & solar panels

Hello,
I'm new here, and have joined hoping for advice please!

I'm not a bird watcher as such, although we do feed the wild birds in the garden (hanging feeders, plus a bird table and bird bath), so we are very much bird/nature lovers. I am in Kent, UK.

We've had solar panels on our roof for a few years, and this year for the first time we've had pigeons take up residence underneath them. There are (I think) three nests, maybe four.

We didn't think anything of it at first, and were quite happy to have them up there, (quite like the coo-ing in fact), but now it's become clear that it's causing issues with the gutters & downpiping regularly being clogged up with pigeon poo and debris from the nests. We aren't as young as we once were, and getting up to clear the gutters isn't something we want to do often. Also, we have been told that the pigeon poo can damage the wiring & connection blocks for the panels and eventually stop them working. So, much that we like the pigeons, we really need them not to be living under the panels.

We've been researching our options over the last day or so, and have spoken to a reputable contractor who can put up bird-proof mesh round the panels. But there are nests under there which would need to be moved out first - except that we are now aware that it's not legal to move the nests if they are in use. We can't say with certainty that they are in use, but we think they must be. The gap between the roof and the panels is so small that you wouldn't be able to see if there were eggs or chicks in there without moving the nests. I feel like we are in a Catch 22 situation here!

I've read advice saying to 'discourage' them by removing their food source, but we don't want to stop feeding the other wild birds, plus several of our neighbours feed wild birds too, so even if we stopped there would still be food about.

I spoke to a wildlife rescue group yesterday for advice, who said that if we happened to move a nest and found there were chicks in there, that they could take only two (they are very full already), but that's not ideal as we would have disturbed a nest that shouldn't have been disturbed, but I can't see how we can know if the nest is active without moving it. They also told me that pigeons breed less in the colder months, so would I be better waiting until November/December to have this investigated or is there another way?

We certainly don't want to harm any pigeons or their chicks, so I don't know what to do! Any advice welcome!
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Old Friday 14th September 2018, 13:06   #2
Steve
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Hello Dee and welcome to BF I think the advice you got on waiting a few months then clearing the old nests out and adding the mesh is good advice, I don't think pigeons have young in December but I could be wrong.
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Old Friday 14th September 2018, 13:26   #3
PYRTLE
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Can you establish what species of pigeons are nesting. If you have 3 nests all on the go then they're most likely to be feral pigeons. Wood pigeons and collared doves are generally not communal nesters. Yes, come November it's very unlikely that there will be any young left, they should have fledged. Your plan to have the old nests removed and then install the correct mesh by an approved contractor seems sensible.
It's reassuring that you don't wish to disturb the nests whilst there is a chance of them still being occupied.
Though I believe feral pigeons are classed as a pest.

I've just read an article that states the eggs, young and adult pigeons are protected by law. You need a general licence to cull if all other avenues have been explored and if there's a real danger to health. The owner of the property remains liable, even if a contractor is used.
Quite complex.

Last edited by PYRTLE : Friday 14th September 2018 at 16:42. Reason: Update
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Old Friday 14th September 2018, 15:05   #4
crapbirder
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Advice please, re; wild pigeons & solar panels.

Just to add to the good advice already given - my priority would be to establish if all the nests are active, that is to say are you dealing with a single or multiple pairs as a large cavity can be used as a nest site for many years and contain old nests. Typically, cavity nesting either natural or man-made, is confined to Stock Dove or Rock Dove/Feral Pigeon but as there are unlikely to be genuine Rock Doves in your area, Feral Pigeon is perhaps the front runner. Be warned, FP's can have eggs/young in every month of the year.

As Pyrtle stated, FP's can be classed as pests but their removal without the relevant licence is an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act.

Last edited by crapbirder : Friday 14th September 2018 at 15:17.
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Old Friday 14th September 2018, 16:38   #5
Dee33
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Hi Steve, Pyrtle and crapbirder,

Thank you so much for the advice!

We have now had a visit from the bird control company, just to go and have a look. He went up on the roof, round and behind the panels; there are three nests and one of them has two chicks in, and there were eggs in one of the others, so there's nothing to be done at the moment.

They are regular 'feral pigeons', as you a suspected.

We had read about the legal aspect of this, and as you say, we couldn't have the nests moved whilst they are in use anyway (not that we would have wanted that). Fair play to the contractor though, as he could easily have told us the nests were empty just to get the job, (which I expect some do) so at least he was honest. They do have the relevant licence from Natural England, I checked that.

So the plan now is to leave things be until the winter, and he'll go up and check it out again then. I just hope we can catch them 'between broods' next time. That said, any further advice or information would still be welcome.

We really didn't know much about pigeons until two days ago, so are on a bit of a learning curve here.

Thanks again!
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Old Friday 14th September 2018, 18:03   #6
crapbirder
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If you have not done so already, suggest you read this:- https://www.gov.uk/government/public...afety-purposes

Your responsibilities in this matter are made dauntingly clear.
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