The sight of birds lined up in power lines is picture-worthy, but it also spells a few problems. Birds flocking on power lines can cause damage to the electrical components. The birds also stand the chance of being electrocuted. Also, many people find a bird queue on electrical posts to be ominous, especially at night. To solve the problem, you should know how to keep birds off power lines.
While a few birds perching on power lines aren’t a big problem, it can cause a major dilemma later on. In this post, I will discuss what to do when birds start to perch on power lines near you.
How can birds perch safely on power lines?
Many wonder how birds can sit on electrical lines without being electrocuted. This is because electricity will always look for a way out of a person or animal’s body.
Since birds have their two feet on the line, the electricity will enter and exit the bird’s body. This prevents electrocution.
However, if the bird touches two lines at the same time, it will cause a short circuit, thus electrocution. The same will happen if the bird’s feather is touching a tree as it lands its feet on the power line.
Nevertheless, many localities have started using electrical lines with protective covers to shield birds. They also increased the spacing between wires to prevent wide-winged birds from being shocked.
Why birds are a big problem on power lines
Aside from the risk of electrical lines to birds, many homeowners are bothered by other things. Here are some of the reasons why perching on power lines must be prevented:
- Smelly droppings. Birds leave smelly and germ-filled droppings. And if there’s a whole flock perched on a line, it will leave a large mess. This will make your property stinky and less appealing.
- Noise. Also, birds tend to be noisy. Unlike depiction in Disney movies, birds don’t always sing sweet tunes. They are more often shrieking at the top of their small lungs.
- Nesting. While most birds won’t make a mess on electrical lines, they will peck on insulation fibers to use as nesting material. There’s a high chance that birds could peck deep enough to expose the live wires.
- Electrocution. Many birds seem to drop dead from the sky after being electrocuted. It’s a big problem if the killed bird is a protected or endangered species.
- Pole damage. Some birds, especially woodpeckers, will peck into the wood line poles to nest. This will compromise the structural integrity of the electrical line.
How to keep birds off power lines?
When it comes to birds on electrical lines, you have many options to consider. The following are some of the methods you can try.
Method 1: Install a visual deterrent
The easiest way to keep birds away from power lines is to put up visual deterrents near them. It’s cheaper, easy to install, and more convenient to replace.
Your first option here is placing reflective tape near the electrical line. I don’t recommend wrapping the reflective tape on the wires unless it has thick insulation. Also, the reflection from this tape can be an eyesore during sunny days.
Aside from reflective tape, you can also mount a scarer like an owl, eagle, or hawk sculpture. Use one with glowing eyes at night or even a model with moving wings. This will make the scare tactic more effective against birds who love perching on electrical lines near you.
Method 2: Install a sound deterrent
You can also pair visual scarers with sound deterrents to make it more effective. Motion-activated sirens are very effective in driving a flock of birds away from power lines. In the countryside, farm owners will fire blank shots to scare off the birds.
The good thing about sound deterrents is you can pick predator sounds to match the bird species you’re trying to scare. This will make sound scarers more effective, especially for large flocks.
Like visual deterrents, you can mount the siren on a pole to keep it closer to the electrical lines. You may need to set up wires for this one, but it’s just a small sacrifice if you want to get rid of the annoying birds.
Method 3: Use strobe lights
Blinking lights are also a great bird deterrent. You can install strobe lights near your power lines to drive away unwanted guests. It’s a quiet alternative to sound deterrents if your neighbors find it annoying.
You can use as many strobe lights as you can. However, this technique may not be as effective in the day as it is at night. This is why you should consider using other visual scarers to keep the electrical lines bird-free all day long.
Method 4: Remove nests and attractants
Lastly, you must remove attractants in your area, which encourages birds to perch on electrical lines. It could be nesting materials, food, and so on. If you want, you can install a bird feeder away from the pole lines to divert the presence of the birds. However, this has some pros and cons.
Method 5: Call an animal control expert
If all the other methods don’t seem to work, you should call an animal control expert. This is the best move if there are large flocks of birds covering the power lines. In this case, visual deterrents may not be enough. You need professional help to address the problem.
A local animal control agency can help assess the problem. In some cases, the sudden flock of birds in the electrical lines could be due to many factors. Scaring them away isn’t the best permanent solution you might be looking for.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Why do birds gather on power lines?
A: Birds love perching on electrical lines to chance upon flying insects for juicy meals. Since power lines have no foliage, it will be easier for birds to land on them. Power lines also give birds an unobstructed view of the surroundings, so predators are easily seen from a distance.
Q: Do birds sit on power lines for warmth?
A: Birds are attracted to power lines because it helps them stay warm. Electrical lines are a bit warmer than the air, so birds will use them to their advantage. In the wild, birds don’t have cozy shelters, so they maximize all the heat they can use during cold days.
Q: Why do bats get electrocuted on electrical lines?
A: Unlike birds, bats have a patagium that will touch a live wire at two different points. This will cause an electric shock to the bat, which usually ends up in death.
Q: Why do birds not feel the current from electrical lines?
A: The feather of a bird acts as insulation that’s why it doesn’t feel the current when it sits on top of a power line. Birds’ bodies are engineered to resist electric shock, but they aren’t invincible to potential harm.
Q: Can birds on power lines cause accidents on the road?
A: Birds perching on highway electrical lines don’t really pose a threat to motorists. However, these birds can be electrocuted and fall in the middle of a highway. This can distract a driver, which increases the risk of an accident. It’s the reason why the authorities are trying to repel birds from perching on electrical lines.
Knowing how to keep birds off power lines will save you from the hassle of bird droppings and noise. It will also save birds from electrocution.
Whatever method you use, make sure that it’s humane and safe for everyone. You may need to try a few methods to find the best solution for your bird problem.
Have you ever dealt with birds on power lines before? How did you solve it? Share your tips below!