Modernisation Planning

Keeping Birds Safe from the Hazards of Electricity


Risk poles + lines are retrofitted to guarantee bird safe.

a power pole having some remedial work applied by the utility company


Contructed to state-of-the-art technical standards.

the new power poles in Sudan


Use of decoys or repositioning altogether to prevent encountering.

the new power poles in Sudan


The safest method with nothing above ground for birds to contact!

2 workers from RETO burying a section of high voltage line in Alberta, USA

1. Remedial Work

When Jimmy was electrocuted Scottish Power went to full measures to retrofit the killer pole to make it bird safe.

the power pole where Jimmy eas electrocuted before, left, and after, right

The retrofitted pole has insulated jumper wires, a new transformer with upright isolators, composite spikes on the cross-bar and flight diverters.

Add-on perches can also help keep birds safe as demonstrated in this video:

2. Replace with New-Build

The notorious power line from Port Sudan to the Red Sea coast, which is estimated to have electrocuted hundreds and perhaps thousands of Endangered Egyptian Vultures Neophron percnopterus since its construction in the 1950s, was switched off in March 2013.

showing the construction of the lethal powerline which electrocuted hundreds of vultures small space showing another construction of the lethal powerline which electrocuted hundreds of vultures, photo by Domingo Rivera Dios

This decisive action by the Sudanese government and power company officials follows years of work by BSPB (BirdLife in Bulgaria), and BirdLife?s UNDP/GEF Migratory Soaring Birds (MSB) project and its local NGO partner, the Sudanese Wildlife Society (SWS) after years of work. (S Nikalov)

showing an electrocuted Egyptian Vulture

German ornithologist Gerhard Nikolaus?s expedition in 1982-83 found nearly 55 electrocuted Egyptian Vultures under the 31-kilometer power line stretch and during his next visit 21 years later, he found another 5 dead birds. Another survey found, in September 2012 alone, the carcasses of 17 Egyptian vultures along the line, adding that all of the carcasses were found under power poles, 15 under metal poles and two under concrete poles, making electrocution the most likely cause of death.

Image of the decommisioned Sudan Powerline

Soon after work started on constructing a new power line running parallel to the existing line, with 510 new poles insulated with XLPE insulated (AAC) aluminum conductors to protect from electrocution. Meaning that these Vultures are now able to perch safely when they cross this zone of their migration. (photo KHristov)

new pylons with the rising sun photographed by S Nikolov

New pylons with the rising sun, photographed by Stoyan Nikolov, Project Manager from Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds.

images of a striking Egyptian Vulture coming in to land

3. Divert Birds from Contact

Flight diverters can be fitted to a power line as a visible deterrent to birds who may otherwise collide especially in dark, rain or mist. Collision is often associated with earth wires which are frequently installed above the live lines and are less smaller and hence visible. Large birds are most at risk because of their large wingspans and slow last minute manouveurabiulity eg cranes, swans and flamingos.

flight diverters being put up by 2 engineers from Red Electrica, Spain

Red El?ctrica has installed a total of 515 bird-flight diverter devices along the 30 kV land section of line between the San Jorge substation, in Ibiza, and the Formentera substation, specifically along a total of 2,903 metres of this section, which includes Ibiza?s Ses Salines Natural Park. The placement of the bird-flight diverters on the San Jorge ?Formentera 1 line is the first activity of its kind that Red El?ctrica has carried out on the transmission grid of Ibiza.

The installation of the bird-flight diverters will minimize the number of birds colliding with the electricity lines. The devices consist of spirals made ??of polypropylene (PVC) and are wrapped around the grounding cable. They are brightly colour which facilitates their visibility and detection by birds over long distances. Red El?ctrica will monitor their impact.

The marking of this electricity line, which was carried out in conjunction with the Species Protection Service of the Balearic Islands? Government, reflects the commitment of Red El?ctrica to biodiversity protection and the conservation of areas of high ecological value, as is the case with the Ses Salines Natural Park, an area characterised by its significant natural heritage and its ornithological richness.

One point of note however is that visual deterrents alone will not guarentee to protect birds whose vision favours downwards and sideways in flight and only forward movement and foraging. Thus birds like cranes, flamengos and swans who communicate with other birds in formation flight and birds of prey scanning for prey are still most at risk. Research is looking into other methods to safeguard these birds such as the use of sound to alert them.

4. Bury Lines Underground

The safest method with nothing above ground for birds to contact!

2 workers from RETO burying a section of high voltage line in Alberta, USA

Two workers from RETO (Responsible Electricity Transmission for Albertans) burying a section of high voltage line.

There are many significant benefits to having voltage power lines underground of which saving birds and animals from electrocution and collision is a great one.

Benefits of Underground Lines (compared to Overhead / Above-ground Lines) stated by RETO:

  1. eliminate the electrical field through shielding and significantly reduce the magnetic field through phase cancellation,
  2. reduce the negative health impacts of overhead line electromagnetic fields (EMFs) to almost zero,
  3. eliminate the negative health impacts of the overhead line corona effect,
  4. are safer because they can't electrocute people or animals,
  5. eliminate EMFs and stray voltage that negatively affect livestock,
  6. do not negatively impact agricultural crop production,
  7. do not interfere with agricultural operations,
  8. are safer because buried lines don't fall over in hurricanes, tornadoes, other high wind storms or ice storms,
  9. eliminate costly power outages to hundreds of thousands of customers every day resulting from damage to above-ground electricity infrastructure,
  10. are not affected by solar storms,
  11. do not start wildfires nor are they affected by fires,
  12. are safer because aircraft and hot air balloons can't crash into them,
  13. do not cause nearby pipeline corrosion or hazardous induced currents in pipelines,
  14. do not lower adjacent property values,
  15. are not an eyesore,
  16. do not buzz or hum,
  17. do not negatively affect tourism,
  18. do not negatively affect other economic development opportunities,
  19. do not negatively affect the environment,
  20. do not kill millions of birds annually through collision,
  21. do not frighten wildlife with ultra-violet flashes,
  22. are not negatively affected by volcano ash fall-out,
  23. are safer because they are not susceptible to terrorist attacks,
  24. do not create electromagnetic interference or other negative effects on national defense equipment/installations,
  25. are more reliable,
  26. have lower maintenance costs,
  27. are more efficient and have lower transmission loss costs, and
  28. can be buried for almost the same capital cost as overhead lines.