It is common to see large groups of birds sitting together on power lines. These birds happily hop and jump from one line to another without any indication of discomfort or electrocution. We are aware that if we were to touch or sit on power lines that we would be electrocuted by the current flowing through the line. We are taught to be careful with kites and when cutting down tree branches near power lines. How is it that these birds suffer no ill effects from their time on the power lines? Why don’t birds get electrocuted? Read this article to find out.
Why Don’t Birds Get Electrocuted On Power Lines
The first reason that birds do not get electrocuted when sitting on power lines is because the body of a bird is not a very good electricity conductor. Electricity will run along the path of least resistance. This means that it is easier and faster for the electricity to run along the conductive wires rather than through the bird’s body.
Secondly the bird is not completing a circuit. For a circuit to occur the power must flow through a live cable, which carries the electricity, and return back via a neutral cable. For an object to conduct electricity, and have the electrical current flow through it, it must be connected to both the live and neutral cable. When a bird sits upon the wire it is not touching the other wire creating a circuit. To make sure that the electricity flowing through an electrical item is not fatal, the neutral wire is also connected to a ground. This grounding wire ensures that the electricity is harmlessly transferred from the object to the ground. If a bird touches both wires and the grounding wire it becomes part of the electrical circuit and will be electrocuted. As long as the bird does not make itself part of a circuit it will not be electrocuted.
The following is a clever explanation of why birds do not get electrocuted: