Bird interactions with utility structures: collision and electrocution, causes and mitigating measures
Article first published online: 3 APR 2008
Volume 136, Issue 4, pages 412–425, October 1994
How to Cite
BEVANGER, K. (1994), Bird interactions with utility structures: collision and electrocution, causes and mitigating measures. Ibis, 136: 412–425. doi: 10.1111/j.1474-919X.1994.tb01116.x
- Issue published online: 3 APR 2008
- Article first published online: 3 APR 2008
- revision accepted 27 September 1993
The causes of collision and electrocution accidents involving birds and power lines, and measures to mitigate such accidents, are reviewed. It is convenient to group the causes according to (1) biological, (2) topographical, (3) meteorological and (4) technical aspects. As regards collisions with power lines, the important biological variables are connected with the morphology, aerodynamic capability, physiology, behaviour and life-history strategies of birds. To understand the electrocution problem, the relationship between body size and electrocuting installations must be considered.
Removing earth wires (and modifying earthing methods). modifying line, pole and tower design, installing underground cables and conspicuous marking of lines, poles and towers are important measures for tackling the problems. The route planning process should include careful mapping of (1) topographical features which are leading lines and flight lanes for migrating birds and/or are important for local movements of resident species, (2) topographical elements such as cliffs and rows of trees that force birds to fly over power lines, (3) primary ornithological functions or uses of the area to avoid key areas for birds and avoid separating these areas and (4) local climatic conditions (including seasonal variations) like fog frequency and prevailing wind direction. The outcome depends largely on a combination of these factors.
Objective assessment of the effects of mitigating measures, in particular wire marking, is required. The mitigating efforts should be directed against species known to be potential collision victims, and their design should be the result of a careful analysis of the biology and ecology of the target species.
Because of the cumulative effects of negative impacts on bird populations today and the alarming number of species with endangered or vulnerable status being killed in connection with utility structures, the problem deserves increased general awareness.