Monday, December 14, 2009

Flying Friendlier Skies

Blog by Ginny Glasscock

Everyone appreciates the modern conveniences that electricity brings to our homes, from utilities and communications to entertainment. But we don’t always think about the problems that the equipment that supplies this power can cause for our feathered friends.
Natalie Turlie, of Idaho Power, addresses these concerns in her job as Avian Protection Coordinator. Working with the US Fish and Wildlife Service to monitor problem areas, she then plans improvements to Idaho Power equipment.
She trains company crews to retrofit older poles and lines with more bird-friendly features, and to use these same features on new or replacement installations.
At The Nature Conservancy's Silver Creek Preserve, several power poles were scheduled for replacement prior to winter, as they had been partially charred by the fire of 2008.
Crews recently completed the job, using several bird safety devices. Additional protection was provided on a nearby power pole with three transformers, where an osprey had been recently electrocuted after it perched to eat its meal of just-caught trout.

Birds can run afoul of power lines by actually flying into them, or by electrocution. Natalie explains that birds can die if they simultaneously touch two energized wires, or one live wire and a ground. Birds can perch safely as long as they don’t make these two points of contact.
Protective devices work by making power lines more visible so that the birds can avoid them, discouraging birds from perching in dangerous locations, or by covering energized wires to allow safe perching.
Firefly bird diverters are mounted directly onto long spans of wire in high traffic flight areas. These small, reflective flappers are also luminescent, to be visible to night-time flyers.
Perch preventer strips are rows of small spikes mounted on power pole cross pieces, nudging birds away from dangerous spots. T-shaped perches provide a sitting area well above electrified parts. Large PVC sheaths cover wires and insulators at the tops of poles, and plastic tubing is installed over smaller wires.

You will be able to find all of these on power lines and poles at Silver Creek Preserve.
The preserve is a popular bird-watching destination, with more than 150 different species reported.

All birds and birders are grateful to Idaho Power for their work in mitigating possible conflicts between human needs and avian ones.

1 comment:

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