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Power lines and birds

Posted on Nov 8, 2014

Earlier this week I read a story about a bird rescue by the fire department from my hometown. It seems a gull had gotten tangled in fishing line – an unfortunately common occurrence easily avoided if everyone fishing would clean up after themselves – and then compounded the problem by getting stuck on power lines! I thought to myself, you know what? This must happen on a relatively frequent basis to various birds, especially the large ones that would perch on them. We discuss cats, buildings, pollution, and many other sources of avian mortality, but power systems are everywhere, too. The American Bird Conservancy says that, “[m]illions of birds, including Bald and Golden Eagles, owls, and hawks are thought to die each year as a result of power line interactions.” We will never be disposing of these lines in the foreseeable future, nor burying them underground due to the extreme cost even when human considerations are placed first. ABC says there are voluntary solutions that can be taken up by utility companies such as, “visual markers such as colored spheres, spinning disks, and streamers that reduce the likelihood of collisions, and spacers, insulating sheaths, and wider separation between lines to decreases electrocution rates,” all of which I have seen here or there but did not think of until now. Does your power company do its part to help protect birds and comply with voluntary federal guidelines?

Powerline tower lines electric-1008

Scott Kruitbosch
Conservation & Outreach Coordinator