Help – There are Birds in my Roof!


Some people like the cheery twitter of birds first thing in the morning; others want to tear their hair out at the incessant chirping that has yanked them from their beauty sleep. Love them or hate them, there is one question anyone who has ever had birds in their roof asks: Will they cause any damage?

According to the RSPCA, the answer is no – at least very rarely. Birds make themselves at home in your roof via existing damage. In essence, lack of maintenance is responsible for your disrupted sleep.

The other question many people ask is whether or not they can get rid of the nesting birds. The answer to that is also no.

It’s against the law in the UK to damage or destroy all birds, their nests and eggs (Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981). It is also an offence to prevent parent birds from gaining access to their nests. If birds are endangered it could even be an offence to disturb them when they’re near their nests. The only time some birds (feral pigeons) can be removed or even killed is if they threaten public health. This is how seriously the UK takes its bird protection.

What birds are likely to nest in roofs?

Only a small selection of birds is likely to make their homes in your roof, under your eaves or in your chimney. According to the RSPCA, these species include:

  • Feral pigeon
  • House sparrow
  • Starling
  • House martins
  • Swifts
  • Jackdaws
  • Swallows

(Jackdaws and swallows make their homes in chimneys but it’s important to note that the chimneys on modern homes are not wide enough to accommodate their nests. They might still find chimneys on old cottages attractive, however.)

  • Barn owls
  • Little owls
  • Tawny owls – very rare
  • Blue tits
  • Great tits

Owls and tits are generally only found in the country, so urban-dwellers won’t have to keep a weather eye open for them.

Prevent birds from nesting in your roof

Seeing as how you’re not allowed to remove birds from your roof once they’ve made themselves at home, your only option is to prevent them from entering in the first place. You can also take steps to prevent them from returning if you’ve had problems in the past.

The best time to implement prevention techniques, according to the RSPCA, is during winter, which is not a nesting period for most birds. Inspect the exterior thoroughly for any cracks or gaps and then seal them. Call an expert if you don’t trust your eye.

Try to arrange for them holes to be sealed during the morning, as this is when most birds are out of the nest and they aren’t likely to be sealed in the roof space. If you’re worried that some birds might be trapped accidentally, you can install a temporary mesh cover for a few days and monitor the hole. If no birds appear you can go ahead and seal it up properly.

A note on bats:

Bats are also protected by UK law, so if have a bat problem contact the Bat Conservation Trust on 0845 1300 228.