Science Questions

Why can birds touch electricity wires?

Sun, 1st Jun 2008

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Question

Andrew asked:

Why can birds touch electricity wires when we can’t?

 

Answer

Well, actually you could sit on an electricity wire and not get electrocuted as long as you didn’t touch anything else.  The birds aren’t doing anything special.  The reason they’re able to sit there is because they’re not earthing or producing a route for the electricity to get from the wire down to the ground.  If you were to hang on to the wire and touch the pylon that’s holding the wire then you’d have a problem.  The wires are at a very high voltage, the pylon’s at a very low voltage and you provide a very convenient circuit down to earth for the electricity. The birds that are sitting on the wire there’s no difference in potential between one leg and the other. Both legs are sitting on the wire so there’s no reason for the electricity to want to flow through them.

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