Perils of the Pacific NW

Great Blue Herons nesting in the towers that support high power transmission lines are intermittently shorting the power grid and plunging Puget Sound neighborhoods into darkness.  It seems the herons are pooping when they take flight. In itself, not unusual for a bird. Their logic is impeccable. Why carry superfluous weight into the air when the heavy lifting is your own? The peculiar thing about heron poop is its length—almost three feet. Streamers of guano are spanning transmission lines and providing an unexpected path for electricity to propagate. Electric poop.

The herons themselves aren’t electrocuted because they’re not grounded. In theory, at least. Years ago I read that the Crown Prince of Moldavia (or some obscure middle European principality) who was fond of falconry watched his prize Harpie eagle take stand on a transmission tower and promptly explode into a cloud of feathers. It must have disconcerted the Prince. Even more disconcerting to the poor heron with 10,000 volts aimed at its ass.

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