Understand why we do what we do :P

Why don’t birds on power lines get electrocuted?

A grey-headed flying fox (Pteropus poliocephal...

Image via Wikipedia

Imagine if your eyes could see electrons moving.. You could then see the stream of fast-moving electrons on these power lines, which have the power to give you the shock of your life, literally!

How do birds then, not get electrocuted? Do they have some super power? Are they immune to current, that no matter what they don’t get electrocuted? Or is it something they hide under their feathers, a secret weapon to counter electricity, and then one day deny us the power of the electric current and take over as the new rulers of the world?

Bird on Wire

Well jokes aside, the most simple explanation is that both the bird’s legs are on the same wire, and are at the same potential, hence eliminating the case of current/moving electrons.

Electrons basically move from regions of high potential to low potential, so if the bird had one leg on the wire and the other on the electric pole or the ground, then its legs would be at different potential, electrons would move and the bird would be electrocuted.

One can also question, “Doesn’t the squirrel form a closed circuit for the current to move?”.

Well that is true, but the concept of current is that it moves along the line of least resistance. Between a piece of wire and the bird on the wire, the path of least resistance is the wire, again explaining why the bird does not get electrocuted.

Well we are happy for the birds that they have a place to rest without a worry, but there are still lots of cases of electrocution.

We wait for the day when we can transmit power wirelessly, maybe we can then avoid accidents while at the same time also save money on the use of these wires.


One response

  1. mirabel

    I solely think that birds don?t get electrocuted when they petch on a wire or a live part of the wire because the have a kind of “insulator” on their legs that makes them resistant to electricity.Thank you.

    March 20, 2013 at 5:48 am

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