How to Stop Birds Nesting Under Roof Tiles

Wherever you live in the UK, you’re likely to see plenty of birds every day. They play a pivotal role in just about every ecosystem on the planet and come in hundreds of thousands of shapes and sizes. However, there are a number of issues that can occur when birds come into contact with humans. One problem that many homeowners will face is birds nesting on their roof, particularly under their roof tiles. This can damage not only your property’s aesthetics, but also its structure, and even damage your health.

Table of Contents

First: The Dos and Don’ts

Interfering with birds in any way, shape or form is a very controversial issue, with debate raging continuously up and down the country. When dealing with nesting birds, there is a strict set of laws that you must follow and going against many of them is a criminal offence. It is vital that no bird nests, regardless of species, are disturbed while in use. This rule applies even if eggs or chicks are not present – if the nest is presently home to birds, it must be left alone.

Before disposing of a nest, the species it belongs to must first be identified, and then their breeding season needs to be found out. Nests can only be removed outside of the bird’s nesting season, so if you know which bird it is and it is still their nesting season, the nest needs to be left alone. There are multiple guides to bird nesting seasons all around the web, with the RSPB in particular proving an invaluable source to anyone looking for advice regarding birds.

What Sort of Birds Could I Have In My Roof?

A wide range of birds are capable of deciding to make their nest in your roof, with some species considered less desirable than others. Popular species include sparrows, swifts, swallows and more, while pigeons proving to be the most notorious of the ‘pest’ birds. Unlike many other species, you are just as likely to encounter pigeons if you are in a city as you would be in the countryside – they are some of the world’s most successful bird species, but this is mainly due to their opportunism, which in turn can make them rather unhygienic neighbours.

It’s not necessarily always pigeons that drive people to wish to evict birds from their roofs, but they are without a doubt the most common problem, with gulls and various members of the corvid family (crows, magpies, jackdaws etc.) also causing issues for seaside and countryside properties respectively.

It is these larger birds that tend to be messier, and can leave twigs, feathers and excrement all over your roof as they make their home there. They can also be rather loud (especially gulls) and, in their search for food or materials for their nests, can be destructive, both towards your roof and beyond.

What Sort of Damage Can Birds Do to a Roof?

Whether they’re just passing by or making a nest under your roof tiles, there are a number of ways in which birds can damage a roof. This includes immediate effects as well as potential long-term damage to the home.

Bird Droppings

Unfortunately, birds are rather indiscriminate when it comes to where they do their business. This means that should birds be nesting under your roof tiles or anywhere else in your roof space, you can quickly find yourself with a serious problem. Not only will the bird droppings look rather unsightly, but as bird faeces contains a high quantity of uric acid, it can even eat away at roofing materials and cause them to degrade over time.

Damaged Roof Tiles

Birds can damage your roof tiles in several ways. If your roof has any tiles that are loose or cracked already, birds can exacerbate the problem, particularly if they build a nest underneath them. In addition, a bird’s nest is a very attractive prospect for insects, who could quickly make themselves at home in your roof space and cause structural issues.

Waste and Debris Build-Up

Many species of bird return to the same nesting place every year, which means if you don’t discourage this now, you could have a serious problem on your hands. After a few short years a homeowner could be presented with a number of old, rotting nests filled with excrement, dead chicks and rotten eggs. Not only are these things unpleasant, they can even present a danger to human health.

Blocked Gutters

As well as under loose roof tiles or in the void left by missing tiles, birds often build their nests in gutters. This is because when there are no trees available, a nice clear high-up spot like your roofline becomes the next best thing. Guttering also provides birds and their chicks with a supply of fresh water. Birds nests will of course block your home’s drainage system, which can lead to overflowing, leaks and even water ingress into your roof space.

Fire

Another hazard that birds nesting on your roof can cause is fire. This is firstly due to the fact that birds’ nests are so flammable – as they’re made from grass, dried leaves, twigs and other materials. As well as this, birds often build their nests near electrical machinery due to warmth, or within chimneys or ventilation systems for the same reason. Blocking the air flow from a home in this way is a hazard in itself, as in the event of a fire smoke would be unable to escape.

How to Stop Birds Nesting Under Roof Tiles?

There are multiple ways to equip your roof in order to aid it in the prevention of nesting birds, with each method coming with their own pros and cons. It should be noted that there is no flawless method of preventing birds from settling on your roof – and each of these options have drawbacks. However, the option with most desirable traits and the least negative issues is really down to you to decide.

Eaves Closures

The eaves are a common place for birds to make a home in your roofline. They’re a great spot to roost in thanks to the shelter from the elements, and cover away from predators. Eave guards, eave protectors or eaves closures are all names for a range of products designed to keep our feathered friends at bay. They help to cover up any gaps in your roofline, preventing birds from having the opportunity to nest there.

Sound Deterrents

Sound deterrents are a popular form of nesting prevention. They are small devices that can be installed on or around your roof, and often emit a high-pitched noise that proves very irritating to birds, to the point that they will refuse to nest in the vicinity of the sound. This has proven to be a highly effective way of stopping birds from coming near your property.

Sound deterrents are affordable and easy to install, and often have long-lasting batteries that allow them to operate for lengthy amounts of time. They come in multiple shapes and sizes, and some come in the form of several smaller devices in one set that can be placed in multiple areas around your property in order to create a wider range without having to make the noise they emit too loud.

There are downsides to consider when looking into this option, however. Firstly, it won’t just stop birds from nesting on or around your property but may stop them coming anywhere near it for more than a minute or so. This can prove problematic not only for birdlife, but also for you and your garden. Birds are very important to any ecosystem, so their absence will certainly be felt in your garden. A number of these sound deterrents also emit noises that would certainly prove annoying to any human that hears them too, so keeping them near the ground or at a higher volume may cause you irritation down the line.

Decoy Birds

Decoy birds, at first glance, may look a little silly to many. Often, they come in the form of British birds of prey, such as a peregrine falcon, red kite, or one of the multiple owl species that reside in our countryside. These decoys can sometimes look very fake to humans, but many bird species won’t take the risk of approaching them.

These decoy birds are usually extremely affordable and can simply be placed on or around your roof – just make sure they are as visible as possible from the air by placing them in open areas, so birds are more likely to see them. These decoy birds can come in all shapes and sizes, and there are even ‘kite’ variants (not to be confused with the red kite bird, though they can often be modelled after them!) that can be tied to a pole a left to fly in the wind, creating the illusion of kite patrolling the area for prey.

There are few drawbacks to these decoy birds. For example, they can often prove fairly unsightly, especially if they are of a cheaper make. These particular models can also prove extremely fragile and can easily be fractured if knocked or dropped from a height. One of the main drawbacks, especially with the static models, is that they may only work as deterrents for so long. Birds are actually some of the smarter creatures in the animal kingdom, especially crows, jackdaws and ravens, and it may only be a matter of time before they suss out the fake decoys and make their nests on your roof anyway!

Bird Spikes

Some of the most effective and permanent of the bird deterrents are bird spikes. Despite their ominous sounding names, these accessories are actually very humane, and simply make it more difficult, rather than impossible, for the bird to land and stand on the surface on which they are placed. This is why you may sometimes see pigeons sitting amongst the spikes at train stations and on office buildings in towns and cities – the spikes allow them to stop and take a break, but are simply too much hassle for the birds to navigate around for them to bother trying to build a nest there.

Bird spikes are accessories that can be purchased for a range of areas on and around your property. Roof verges, ridges, guttering and porches can all have bird spikes placed on them, and will work very effectively almost immediately. Bird guards for your chimney also offer excellent protection from nesting birds.

As you can imagine, one of the main issues with bird spikes is that they can look quite unsightly – despite of the lack of harm they pose birds, they nevertheless can look rather unappealing when laid out across your roof top. They can also be risky for humans to navigate around, so any area that sees fairly frequent human traffic should not have these spikes in place.

How to Prevent Birds from Nesting on Your Roof in Future

Performing regular roof maintenance is an important part of keeping birds away from your roof. Cracked, loose, or missing tiles can quickly become homes for nests, and seemingly benign dirt or debris will only help to fuel the problem.

Replace Missing Tiles

It’s one thing to have birds nesting on your roof, but it is quite another to have birds nesting within it. Here, their potential for damaging your property rises exponentially, with their access to the underlay and insulation a very plausible recipe for disaster. This is why simply replacing any missing tiles is one of the best ways to actually stop birds from causing direct damage to your roof.

Replacing missing tiles can be fairly easy depending on the make of tiles on your roof. Many tile makers nowadays produce dry-fix tiles, which can be installed relatively quickly without the need for cement or mortar. It will also in turn help your roof look far more visually appealing and may well rejuvenate your property both in appearance and performance, so is absolutely worth considering.

Of course, replacing tiles won’t stop birds from returning to your roof, though it will certainly ensure that the potential for major damage to your roof is decreased massively. The birds could still nest on top of your roof or within the guttering however, which means you may still be required to clean up whatever mess they leave once the nesting season is over and they have left the nest permanently.

Conclusion

Tackling the problem of nesting birds can be tricky, especially if they’ve already made their home on your roof beforehand. It’s best to act pre-emptively in order to save yourself a great deal of time and hassle.

With all this said, it cannot be understated how important our homes can be for many birds, especially in more rural areas, which are on the decrease as swifts, sparrows and many other bird species find themselves being driven away from countless areas as farming techniques intensify and landscapes are converted as towns continue to expand.

So while it is totally understandable that measures may need to be taken to prevent birds from making their homes on or around your roof, perhaps this could be countered by aiding them in some other way, such as building or installing a bird box in your garden, and putting out food for them. While this may sound counter-productive to those looking to expel birds from their property, it can be a good way to make up for disallowing them to live on your roof. Special birdboxes and feeders also exist that prevent larger birds such pigeons from using them, giving the smaller, more vulnerable birds such as robins, thrushes and the many different songbirds an excellent alternative to your roof.