August 21, 2013 | LXXIII, No. 21

Power lines are killing birds

Sadly, this morning, I found yet another causality of the high tension power lines that cross over North Dam Park. Since I’ve been walking the area, about eight or nine months, I’ve witnessed three bird fatalities. The first was a dead Canada goose, second was a dead gull species and today, a night hawk. Though still alive and breathing heavily, it was obviously in bad shape. I moved it into the grass and off the gravel road. My observations are, at best, casual. Interestingly, all the birds were in the same general area too.

Of course evidence and proof are important; however, the circumstantial evidence is very strong: dead or dying birds of various species, showing no physical injuries, on the ground below high tension power lines.

Here is what Sibley Guides states about this issue: “First, it should be stated that the single most significant threat to bird populations is habitat destruction, in all of its forms and with all of its causes. High tension line collisions may kill up to 174 million birds per year. This figure extrapolates from European studies to the millions of miles of aerial wires in North America. There are very few data in North America.”

There continues to be a lot of media chatter about wind generators and bird mortality, yet, not much “looking back” at other parts of the nation’s electric power system such as high tension power lines and their effects on birds. From research I’ve done, there are simple things that can be done. Here’s what a respected site, Conservation Evidence, a website based at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom states: “A total of studies and two literature reviews from across the world found that marking power lines led to significant reductions in collision rates or dangerous flight behavior…” So, it would appear that this is a problem that can be corrected.

Reader Comments

(0)