Birds and Electrocution

Well I had two very interesting things hit my inbox that are somewhat related. One is kind of a gruesome photo but fascinating: Electrocuted Hawk and Squirrel

The above photo was taken by Lili Taylor (woman after my own heart, she takes pictures of dead stuff). In the photo, we have a dead squirrel and a dead raptor on top of a transformer. Based on the tail feathers, it looks to be a hatch year red-tailed hawk. It's a shame, the bird graduated from the nest, figured out how to hunt down tough quarry like a gray squirrel and then landed to eat it only to be electrocuted on a transformer.

I also got a notification that he U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Avian Power Line Interaction Committee have released their updated guidance document Reducing Avian Collisions with Power Lines: State of the Art in 2012. This manual is supposed to identify "best practices and provides specific guidance to help electric utilities and cooperatives, federal power administrations, wildlife agencies, and other stakeholders reduce bird collisions." So it seems there are things that can be done to prevent this and it's up to the power company to take that initiative to make adjustments. I think in this case of the hawk on the transformer that you could try and call the power company to alert them so they could at least remove it and encourage them to maybe put a cover over it to prevent further electrocutions.

It's fascinating to follow some of those links. The APLIC offers workshops on this subject and you can even download a copy of an Avian Protection Plan (a working document that states with the risks are to birds and how to mitigate that). On page 30 it gets into construction guidelines.

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The document points out what the risk is to a bird landing on the transformer but also points out way that could fix it easily:

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The hard part is tracking down the power company responsible for the transformer and getting them to come out and fix it. It's in their best interest to do so, they could be fined or something like this could lead to a costly power outage.