Lighthouses on power lines save birds

Belgium has at least 5,614 kilometers of high voltage lines, all under the responsibility of Ilya. This network causes a huge number of victims among birds. “Just to be clear, birds are killed by hitting wires, not by electrocution,” says Dominique Verbelen, Birds Scientific Associate at Natuurpunt. “We estimate that between 150,000 and 500,000 birds die in this way each year.”

Not all species are at the same risk, Verbelen says. We mainly count large, less agile birds such as storks and silent pelicans among the victims of high voltage lines. In addition, birds that fly in groups such as starlings and gulls are at risk, and species that migrate at night.

Beacon – putting signs on cables – offers a solution. Natuurpunt carried out counts before and after the beacons were installed on the high-voltage line at Noordschote, located in the Yser Valley. Before the lighthouse we found 131 dead people, after that we found only seven. So the signals work especially well.

Noordschote’s choice was not accidental. It’s about an old streak in an area where people have been working on better management of nature for years. As a result, the area attracts more birds, but the line also causes more casualties. Not every high voltage line causes the same number of problems. That’s why we drew a map and marked the deadliest lines. These “black lines” make up only 5.8 percent of the network, and indicate where the beacon is most needed. Helpful, because Elijah has the ambition to make the power grid safer for birds.

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