Birds can be electrocuted by touching power lines that don't have a protective covering.
Most of the wires that send electricity are covered with a plastic material that protects birds when they land on them. Sometimes a bird can touch an uncovered wire and not get hurt. But when a bird touches two uncovered wires at the same time, current passes through her body and she is electrocuted.
Most of the time this happens at a power pole where two uncovered wires are too close together. When the bird (usually a large bird like an eagle, hawk or raven) spreads her wings, one touches one wire and the other touches the second wire.
The electricity from one wire (called "positive") passes through the bird’s body and reaches the other wire (called "negative"). When positive and negative come together, the bird receives a shock that can injure or kill.
A Great Horned Owl, a Prairie Falcon, a Red-Tailed Hawk and a Swainson’s Hawk are some of the birds we have treated at Wildcare Eastern Sierra because they were electrocuted. Two of these birds died as a result of their injuries, and the Swainson’s Hawk lost the end of both wings and became an education bird. Only one, the Red-tailed Hawk, survived and was released.
Power companies try to make sure that birds don’t get electrocuted, but sometimes something goes wrong and they don’t know about it. If you find a dead bird or birds under a power pole, call the power company and tell them; or you can call Wildcare Eastern Sierra.