The expression "Birds of a feather flock together," or some variant thereof, goes ago to the 16th century, predating telephone and electrical wires through at the very least three centuries. Still, the average non-birder is most most likely to spot bird gathered in species-specific teams on overhead lines. The led one 7 Days reader to ask united state recently: "Why execute birds heat up ~ above telephone wires?"

The snarky response? "Because it"s easier than sitting in a circle." Or perhaps "Because they can."

but what really attracts bird to human-strung wires, even when there space plenty the tree branches and other herbal perches to it is in had? i remember among my childhood camp counselors saying the birds floor on power lines to heat their feet in cold weather. Even then, i suspected he was simply winging it, specifically given that birds soil on electric wires in warmer weather, too. So, WTF?

because that a much more scientific explanation, ns consult neighborhood avian experienced Mark LaBarr, a wildlife biologist and also conservation regimen manager through Audubon Vermont, a program of the national Audubon Society. LaBarr, who"s been v the non-profit for 19 years, runs its bird-banding terminal at the green Mountain Audubon center in Huntington. He points the end that around 350 different bird types can be seen in Vermont, including an ext than 200 that breed here.

Those species have miscellaneous reasons because that perching on energy lines, LaBarr continues. For some falcons, such together the American kestrel, the lines offer a bird"s-eye see of grasshoppers, lizards, ar mice and also other prey. Insectivorous birds, such as swallows, record their food ~ above the wing, therefore they often hang the end on strength lines to spot juicy meals together they paris by. Those wires can be more desirable perches 보다 trees, having actually no foliage come block the view or conceal predators.

During details times of the year, especially late summer and early fall, part bird species cluster ~ above wires in what LaBarr explains as a "pre-migratory get-together." In various other words, the cable serves as a staging area prior to the i m crying takes flight for warmer climes, the avian identical of an airplane preboarding area.

birds on a wire aren"t a year-round phenomenon, LaBarr notes, even for varieties that stick around for the winter. During the reproduction season, he says, us won"t watch birds inside wall up, due to the fact that it"s not advantageous for them come have competitors crowding their space. When the breeding season ends and also their territoriality declines, birds are more prone to flocking together, regularly in long, jabbering rows.

carry out birds actually step aside to do room because that a newly getting here bird, together it often appears?

"Oh, I"m sure there"s part jostling there," LaBarr says. "But even if it is a bird actually states to itself, "Oh, I"ll move over and enable some various other bird to sign up with us here on the line," i don"t think they consciously do that. One thing around flocking actions is the there"s security in numbers. What in your genetics, they know having one much more bird sitting alongside them means that their possibility of gift hit by a predator is reduced by 50 percent."

us asked an additional pressing question: Why carry out birds top top a wire always face in the same direction?

"I guess they do, involved think the it," LaBarr muses, "but I"m certain there"s the strange bird that deals with the opposite way. They"re not unlike united state humans."

The expert readily available a couple of feasible explanations because that the typical alignment. First, as every aircraft pilot knows, it"s less complicated to take it off and also land dealing with into the wind. Second, once birds confront the weather, your feathers don"t acquire ruffled.

Lest anyone wonder why birds don"t gain electrocuted whenever lock cling come high-voltage wires, the factor is an easy physics: As lengthy as your bodies aren"t grounded or perfect a circuit, the electrical existing doesn"t pass with them.

which doesn"t median that bird never obtain electrocuted on power lines, LaBarr says. That happens nice frequently, especially to birds with bigger wingspans, such together eagles and also osprey, i m sorry often build nests on energy poles. As soon as their wings or nesting products touch 2 wires simultaneously, they acquire fried. To stop such fatalities, and disruptions come the electrical grid, utility suppliers often develop nesting platforms, such together those erected near Sand Bar State Park in Milton.

But, as avian reasons of mortality go, LaBarr says, electrocution pales in comparison to much more pernicious, human-created threats, including habitat destruction, windows and also even residential cats.

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One study, carried out by the university of Georgia in 2011, uncovered that free-ranging felines kill an estimated 4 billion animals annually in the U.S., including an ext than 500 million bird — a staggering number.