Why Birds don’t get Electrocuted on Touching Power Lines?

You may be amazed at why the birds don’t get shocked when they sit on high voltage overhead power lines. People often ask why don’t birds get electrocuted on power lines. The possible reasons are discussed in this article.

An electric shock is caused by a flow of current through a body. So for the bird to be shocked there would need to be a current running through her body. The current will only flow through a closed path.

There is no current running through the bird’s body for two reasons.

Bird on Power Line
Bird on Power Line

The first reason is that the bird’s body has a high resistance, so the current would rather pass through the wire instead of the bird. Electricity flows along the path of least resistance.

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  • Since the current can go through the wire or through the bird to get to the same point, you can think of the wire as being a highway and the bird as a one-way mountainous country road.
  • It is easier for the current to pass through the highway (or wire) than it would take the harder mountainous route (the bird).

The second reason and more important is that in order for current to flow through the bird there must be a voltage across the bird’s body.

  • Since the bird is careful to have both feet on the same wire there is not enough voltage across the bird’s body to allow current to flow. The voltage difference is negligible.
  • If the bird were to touch the wire and at the same time the ground or some object connected to the ground, it would receive a deadly shock.

Power lines are extremely dangerous and should always be avoided. Touching a power line is strictly ‘for the birds’.

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