Why Birds Don’t Get Electrocuted On High Voltage Wires

It was a beautiful Sunday morning. I was drinking my coffee while watching the skies for birds. My view was suddenly blocked by an electrician fixing something on the electric pole. It was an interesting contrast seeing the full-geared electrician while the birds are sitting pretty on the wires without any care in the world.

For regular humans like us, we need the help of professional electricians to touch wires other than the ones in our appliances. It is extremely dangerous to tinker with electricity without proper training and safety gear. Let’s leave the job to the licensed electricians.

But you might be wondering why birds are not electrocuted while standing on high voltage wires. Do they have special powers? Are their feet specially designed to withstand electric currents?

Here’s an scientific explanation that I’ve got from Joe, who’s my uncle and a licensed electrician. He said that – First, we need to understand that electrical current is caused by the movement of electrons. The power plants pull the energy from the ground and then transmitted through the power cables. Eventually, the energy travels back to the ground. These electrons do not flow if there is no difference in electrical potential. 

When a bird is standing on one wire, there is no variation in the electrical potential that will lead the electrons to flow to the bird. However, when the bird accidentally touches another wire, like when it stretches its wings, there will be another path where the electricity can flow. The movement of the electric current from the first wire to the second wire will cause the energy to travel through the bird will electrocute the bird. 

It is also similarly dangerous when the bird sits on the power poles and accidentally touch a wire. Remember that electricity comes from the ground, and the electric poles are buried there. That is also the same reason why people is prone to getting an electric shock. We are always in contact with the ground that when we touch a live wire, we get electrocuted.  

The electricians wear special equipment to protect them from electric current while they work that is why you see them handling cables with no problem at all. But they are still at risk if they make a wrong move. So, if it is dangerous for them, it is even more harmful to people without training and protective gear. That is why we certainly need electricians to deal with the live wire issues. Or perhaps train the birds to do the job.

Next time you see a bird sitting on the electric cables, you will no longer be baffled at how they can achieve such a feat. Don’t you wish you have wings to so that you can be off the ground sometimes? It must be fun sitting high up on a wire, and not die as a result of it.