Bird Control Cuts Maintenance/Damage to Transmission & Distribution Facilities

Bird Control Cuts Maintenance/Damage to Transmission & Distribution Facilities


Adopting effective bird control measures can save electrical transmission and distribution companies considerable time and money. Rural lines and substations are particularly vulnerable to pest bird damage. As more bird species are protected by federal, state and local statutes, the proliferation of bird strikes and bird roosting and nesting activities has heavily impacted both the efficiency and operational reliability of high voltage lines and substations. In many instances pest birds have contributed to power losses and/or voltage irregularities.


Pest birds have created power interruptions, damaged equipment, and contributed to a steady rise in maintenance costs. In the U.S. alone, high voltage power transmission and distribution lines experience well over a million bird-related incidents annually. Power lines electrocute hundreds of thousands of birds each year, cutting off power to communities large and small across the country.


Fortunately,there are a number of effective bird control measures available to the electrical transmission and distribution industry. These are easy to use, install and maintain. And they are humane and safe for use around birds and maintenance crews.


Plastic Bird Spikes


Easily one of the most effective and popular bird control devices ever introduced, Plastic Bird Spikes prevent pest birds from landing on or near electrical equipment. After a few unsuccessful attempts at landing, birds simply give up and move on. The non-conductive, UV-protected plastic spikes are inexpensive and virtually maintenance free, which makes them well suited for rural lines and remote substations. Made of unbreakable polycarbonate, the spikes are extremely durable in the harshest weather. The spikes can be ordered in a variety of sizes–3-, 5- and 7-inch widths–to deter a wide range of pest birds. They even come in different colors–like crystal clear, brick red, light grey, brown, black and tan. The strips are availablein two-foot sections and are easy to install using glue or screws.


Misting Systems


Proven effective and humane, Misting Systems broadcast a fine non-toxic mist, fog or scent that irritates birds’ trigeminal nerve and mucous membranes through entry in the eyes, nose or mouth. The chemical they deliver is a food-grade, non-lethal aerosol of methyl anthranilate, which has been approved by the EPA. Misting systems will not affect electrical equipment, as tests conducted by PG&E in Northern California have demonstrated. The better systems allow you to program the time and duration of the spray. One currently available system features an advanced nozzle design that delivers a super fine 5-micron particle size mist that leaves no residue. This advanced hazing system is fully programmable, and it allows the spray to be precisely directed to the area most frequented by pest birds. From its control unit, you can attach up to 64 misting “drop” units and control each one individually. Each drop unit can cover a 6,000 to 8,000 square foot area, and drop units can be programmed to spray simultaneously or at alternating times. A convenient control panel keeps track of liquid levels and notifies you when to refill the units. Misting systems are ideal for bird proofing against pigeons, sparrows, crows, gulls and even vultures.


Sonic Bird Deterrents


Most birds possess excellent hearing, which means they are acutely and constantly aware of any natural predators approaching. Sonic Bird Deterrents exploit these fears, broadcasting predator and distress calls that discourage them from nesting and roosting near remote lines and substations. To deter pigeons, one system blasts the sound of Peregrine falcons (a pigeon’s natural enemy) defending their territory. Other systems emit hawk calls to scare starlings. Still others, broadcast seagulls being attacked to convince these birds to scatter. One extremely versatile system has the ability to send out distress and predator calls for as many as 22 types of birds, repeating the calls every fifteen minutes. This can be highly effective in remote locations where a variety of birds may try to nest in a substation.


Bird Gels


Creating a surface that pest birds hate to land or walk on, Bird Gels are easily applied using a caulking gun to most any surface–including beams, conduit and pipes. When the gel dries, it “skins” over, leaving a sticky surface that lasts for about six months. Bird Gels are a low-profile bird control solution that’s effective for use against pigeons, sparrows, crows, gulls and starlings. They are non-toxic and won’t harm birds or maintenance crews. One note: bird gels should never be used on a vertical surface.


Electric Track


Instead of “frying” pest birds with high voltage, Electric Tracks discourage them with a gentle “jolt of juice” that convinces them never to return. The “charge” these bird control tracks deliver won’t harm birds or maintenance crews. Electric tracks are ideal for use against a number of bird species–including starlings, pigeons, gulls, crows and larger birds. The best electric tracks are flexible, which allows them to be easily installed on flat or curved surfaces. One high-quality electric track features marine grade Monel knitted wire, which is stronger than steel, yet is less likely to corrode in alkali or acidic environments. This particular electric track features a knitted design with a single strand of high gauge wire and a tube-within-a-tube construction for increased strength and added conductivity. The best electric tracks have an anti-arcing design.


Bird Netting


An ideal way to exclude birds from remote lines and substations, Non-Conductive Bird Netting permanently screens out pest bird problems. Easy to install and use, bird netting comes in various mesh sizes to seal out a wide variety of birds. For pigeons and gulls, there’s 1-1/8- to 2-inch mesh size netting. To shut out smaller birds like sparrows and starlings, tighter mesh sizes are available. The best bird netting is U.V. stabilized, flame resistant and rot- and water-proof to hold up longer in harsh weather. For the ultimate in strength and durability, you can choose Heavy-Duty Bird Netting, which is made of high strength knotted polyethylene. This netting is also available in U.V.-treated twine for extended life and it has a burst strength as high as 40 pounds. Many of these better quality bird nets have a high melting point, something to consider if you plan to use netting in high temperature areas.



Alex Kecskes is a freelance writer focusing on effective and humane bird control measures, or keeping birds away from power lines. To learn more about the products listed in this article, visit

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