Bird Perching on Power Lines, From Problem to Solution

July 30, 2019

Bird Perching on Power Lines, from problem to solution

Birds can often be found perching on Utility Infrastructures such as Cross Arms, Poles, Overhead Wires, and Power Lines. This is a common occurrence and not always a problem, but sometimes it can be. There is a common misconception over why Birds do not get some of the issues that can result from this behavior include electrocution of the Bird by bridging two points of differing voltage potential. This can impact on endangered species, especially larger birds that typically have more reach.

When this occurs, this does not just affect the Bird but can cause a short circuit and potential outage on the network, including expensive asset damage. Birds will often perch around the Power-Pole, including the Cross Arm, but this is not always the case. Routinely, birds (especially smaller birds) will sit on the Power Line itself. Sometimes the birds can actively damage the Power Line. This has occurred in Australia where the Sulfur Crested Cockatoo “Ring Barks” covered conductors by grabbing onto the conductor sheath with its powerful beak and rotating around in circles effectively stripping or damaging the sheath. With other birds, it can be a numbers game, with sometimes hundreds of birds congregating on a single span which can effectively overload a compromised conductor.

Whenever a solution for a Utility problem is crafted, one of the first checks an Engineer will make will be any potential unintended consequences that the answer may present. This must be considered from both short and long time frame perspective. Balmoral, in collaboration with their Japanese partners, offers a well-engineered solution, that while simple and cost-effective, provides a robust solution to prevent birds perching on conductors while minimizing any potential untoward conductor loadings. Engineered and manufactured in Japan in an ISO 9001 facility to exacting standards. This is not a prototype, but time tested solution, employed for many, many years by Japanese and other Global Utilities. Known as a “Bird Blocker,” it has been extensively tested for weathering, including UV and high voltage testing amongst others.

The design of this product is such that it “balances” on the conductor so that if it is blown or pushed, it will right itself back to a vertically aligned position. This also helps dissipate wind loadings (which are very small due to its low overall surface area and lightweight). This balancing design favors the application because even if Birds were to try and settle on the Blocker, it provides an unstable footing. This also provides an advantage about snow, and ice loading where it’s an element of movement dislodges snow and ice as demonstrated in product testing during blizzard-like conditions in Hokkaido in the north of Japan.

The Bird Blocker can be installed with one specially designed Rubber Stopper at one end, and up to 10 Bird Blockers can be hooked over the conductor “in series” before the placement of another Rubber Stopper. This creates a 1:5 install ratio of Rubber Stoppers to Bird Blockers. These devices can be quickly and easily be installed by hand while observing appropriate safety and work practice requirements.

With millions of birds being electrocuted every year from contact with Power Lines, it is not a leap to understand that this will translate into Utility Assets being damaged. Power outage benchmarks are becoming more and more stringent worldwide as electricity consumers increase their demands and requirements for uninterrupted power supply for daily living. As Utility infrastructure continues to roll out, there will be an increasing level of interaction with wildlife.