Why Don’t Birds Get Electrocuted? | How do birds sit on power lines?

Humans fear touching wires bare hands, and the birds dare sit on them. Isn’t it surprising? Wondering how birds sit on power lines?

Chickens Eating Healthy Treats x
Chickens Eating Healthy Treats

They are happy sitting there, in fact, some of them sleep on the powerlines but never fall or experience a shock. Well, there is no magic in there but, a science that reveals why don’t birds get electrocuted? when they sit on the wires.

When birds sit on the power lines, their legs and wire are at the same voltage which we term as “potential”.

The reason they do not get electric shock is that they are at the same voltage as the powerline therefore there is no electric flow passing through.

There are two facts to know why the bird does not get electrocuted is because their feet are not touching one powerline at a time and they are not touching the ground.

How Birds Can Sit On The Power Lines?

This is something to explore.

Feathers are responsible to help them balance. The feathered bodies of the birds provide perfect stability to sit on the power lines.

When the bird sits on the power lines, both feet are on the same potential resting on the wires. Thus, electrons are unable to travel through their bodies. Hence, not having electrons means no electric shock.

But, the scenario will change if the bird’s feather touches the wire or one of their legs touches the different potential, the electrons will have a chance to move through thus giving an electric shock to the bird’s body.

Several myths are prevailing when it comes to birds not getting shocked thinking that the wires are insulated. Well, that’s not the case neither is there something magical about the bird’s anatomy.

As said earlier there is a science behind it. So, let’s explore.

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Let’s Go Back To School / Rewinding The Concept

Remember those science lectures we learned in school. The basic understanding of electricity. 

We freshen up here a bit, electricity travels from one point to another through a wire. It travels from the highest point going down to the lowest.

However, it is different with the wires. One end of the wire has a different potential than the other, hence electricity has to travel along with it.

Since the bird’s feet are on the wire there is no potential between them hence the electricity will easily pass through.

Let’s understand this with a simple example here:

Imagine you have two routes to choose from – one is straight reaching the destination you want and another one is slightly muddy and uneven but it is a short route compared to the first one.

You will prefer walking through the shortcut because you will reach it soon. The same is with electricity.

Electricity prefers passing through the shortest route and the easiest one that has low resistance.

The wires are designed in a way that they can easily and quickly travel. Hence, electricity will continue to flow as it is an easier route rather than passing through the bird.

Related Read: Birds Body Parts: 21 Things And Facts You Should Know

What is Electrocution

In layman’s terms, we define electrocution as when someone gets hurt or killed because of the electric shock. Electrocution also happens when hit by the lighting or if someone comes in direct contact with the high voltage power.

High voltage can be 1000 or more resulting in death because of cell and tissue damage. Low voltages less than 1000 volts are still dangerous and have the potential to kill but in certain circumstances, it gives electric sensations.

Will Birds Feet Conduct Electricity?

The answer is no. Electrical wires are kept away from humans, and birds/animals in confined areas so that there are zero errors.

Animals and birds have different resistance power when it comes to electric currents. The voltage capacity is set altered for every animal and bird.

For. E.g. a grizzly bear can’t tolerate a 5000 voltage current, it is sufficient to keep them away from crossing the fence whereas small animals like goats will require 2000 capacity voltage to keep them away.

Related Read: How Do Birds Find Bird Feeders? | Will Birds Come To A Bird Feeder?

Wrapping Up

So, now that we have made the science clear of why birds do not get an electric shock when they sit on the powerlines.

Their feet have resistance hence the power passes through without giving them an electric shock.

As long as the bird is not touching the ground or they have both their feet touching parallelly the power lines there is zero possibility for them to get electrocuted.

Related Read: Do Birds Sunbathe? | Why Do Birds Spread Their Wings On The Ground?

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