Why can birds sit on electrical wires?

+42 votes
asked Apr 10, 2015 in Science by Jeremy (1,050 points)
I have often been traveling down the road and seen birds sitting on the electric wires, but I never figure out why they can sit on electrical wires when we are told our entire lives that touching one would more than likely kill us? I don’t understand what is keeping them safe while they perch up there.

2 Answers

+16 votes
answered Apr 17, 2015 by Milicent (740 points)
Many of us have often wondered why birds can sit on electrical wires without being electrocuted and falling to the earth. Apparently there is a very scientific answer to this question. Birds can sit on the electrical wire because they are producing the same type of electrons as the power line itself.

This is not to say that there isn’t potential for things to go wrong. If a bird sits on the wooden pole and then touches the electrical line, things can go terribly wrong since they are not producing the same electrons on the wooden pole.

Simply stated, the bird is not making the appropriate connection while sitting on the power line to get electrocuted. This can easily be compared to water running down hill and flowing. Electricity flows much like water and if the connection is disrupted by a bird breaking the flow, it could potentially be electrocuted.
+9 votes
answered Apr 15, 2015 by David (880 points)
Why can birds sit on electrical wires is a perplexing question for most people. I have often wondered myself how they can simply sit there without getting electrocuted like a person or other animal would be.

According to science, birds are actually creating the same type of electron as the power line that they sit on. However, that doesn’t mean that they are always safe. In fact, if the bird were to extend a wing or try to peck at something on a different wire than what they are sitting, it will most certainly be bye bye birdy since they are crossing the electrons.

The connection that they are creating between their feet and the power line does not conduct enough electricity to cause a disturbance. The power line is actually making a big circle from the power station to your home. The loop that is created remains unbroken unless the bird or any other animal finds a way to disrupt the flow. Once the flow is disrupted, the potential for electrocution becomes greater.
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