Impact of power lines on birds

Power lines are now recognised as one of the most important causes of bird mortality globally and they can also result in habitat loss, with certain bird species avoiding areas where power lines occur. We have have posted a review on our main website which can be accessed here.

Power connections to “one-off” housing development can pose a significant collision risk to birds

In Ireland we have a legacy of an electrical grid network which was constructed prior to an appreciation being in place of the sensitivity of ornithological sites. Although new power line developments are being progressed in Ireland, these are subjected to detailed ecological and environmental assessment.  A significant ongoing environmental issue in Ireland is the ongoing proliferation of one-off houses across our countryside, and the requirement to provide electricity (and communication) connections to these houses. Unlike other power line developments, the cable connections to one off houses are rarely assessed for ecological impacts. Indeed, the indirect and cumulative environmental impact of these one-off housing developments is rarely considered appropriately.

Power connections to “one-off” housing development can pose a significant collision risk to birds. Indeed, one-off houses have a number of direct, indirect and cumulative environmental impacts which are rarely considered fully prior to these dwellings being constructed.

Birds can have difficulty seeing power lines, especially during poor weather. The large wingspan of other birds can bridge the gap between two lines resulting in electrocutions. The collision risk depends on factors such as the species and their behaviour, weather and type and design of the power lines. Species that are particularly at risk of collision with power lines are birds flying at night, in flocks, large and heavy birds and birds that fly low and fast. Migrating birds flying at low heights (i.e. below 50m) are at a considerable collision risk, and species that congregate in large flocks are more vulnerable to collisions than solitary species.

Flocking behaviour means that individual birds in dense flocks have reduced visibility and therefore less time and space to undertake avoidance action. Risk may also be increased by disturbance, or due to weather events. Birds flying regularly between feeding, roosting and nesting areas are particularly at risk. Overhead power lines can lead to displacement and the loss of feeding areas, and there is a possibility of a loss of breeding and roosting sites.

For further information please see the following:

Also, if you require an advise on birds please do not hesitate to contact us at +353 61 419477 or at info@ecofact.ie.

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