Why Birds Don’t Get Electrocuted When They Sit On Power Lines

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Would you ever touch an electrical live wire? Of course not because it is likely to kill you.

So how come birds can sit unruffled on high voltage power lines?

What magical ability do they have to withstand such contact? Well to understand that we must first understand electrical current. Electrical current is the movement of electrons.

These electrons travel from the power station to your house through the mains, they then move through the power lines through your electronics devices and eventually return to the mains.

This process takes place in a closed loop and this closed loop is necessary in order for electricity to flow in order to move. Electrons also require a difference in electrical potential to a lower one.

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Imagine a bunch of balls on top of the hill, if they are not blocked they will roll down any paths that become available. This is similar to how electrons move from one electrical potential to another, but when a bird sits on a wire, both of its feet are at the same electrical potential so the electrons therefore have no reason to flow through the bird’s body.

No moving electrons means no electric current. The bird is safe unless it suddenly touches another electrical wire, especially one with a different electrical potential. If it does this, it opens a path for the electrons to move through its body.

It is also dangerous for the bird to sit on the wooden poles supporting the wires. This pole is buried in the ground so it has a low electrical potential. If birds were to sit on that pole and simultaneously touch a wire, the current will once more flow from the high potential wire through the bird’s body and into the low potential ground. .

This is the same reason why it is dangerous for humans to touch live wires since we are almost always in contact with the ground. Our bodies serve as a conductor for current to move from an area of lower potential to the floor. Our bodies make excellent electrical conductors and the result is that we get sound.

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That is why workers repairing live electrical wire use insulating materials such as rubber in their clothing and equipment even if their bucket trucks are properly insulated.

These insulating materials do not conduct electricity so the electrons are blocked from flowing. Workers who repair power lines also sometimes work while hanging from a helicopter ensuring they are not touching the ground. They still need to make sure they only touch one wire at a time.

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Though this is why the job of electrical repair remains one of the most dangerous around which leads to our conclusion that it may be safe for birds to sit on electrical wires but humans should stay far away..…..See More

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