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White stork © Vincent Palomarès


© Vincent Palomarès

In France, Belgium and Portugal, there are more than 180,000 km of high and very high-voltage electric lines and 1.65 million km of medium and low-voltage lines. Without proper mitigation measures and especially when they cross important areas for birds, power lines can pose a threat to many bird species.
For some species, this risk is so great that it poses an actual threat to population viability.

The main threats to birds are

The risk of collision with power lines depends on the visibility of the conductor or earth wire to the bird, their ability to avoid them, and a wide range of other species-specific, site-specific and power line-specific factors. Collisions can occur both on distribution and transmission grids.


Electrocution occurs when a bird touches two-phase conductors or one conductor and an earthed device and creates an arc. Due to the shorter distances between components, this is more of an issue on the medium and low voltage grids.


Disturbance during the maintenance of the grid, including landscaping, painting, and construction, can interfere with activities such as breeding. This may result in poor reproduction and nest abandonment of some species.


Target Species

The standard practice of searching the ground for dead birds along the power lines is flawed in several ways (incomplete monitoring, human detection errors, carcass removal by scavengers, etc.). Moreover, data is often compiled without standard protocols. As a result, it can be very challenging to accurately estimate the impact of power lines, the effectiveness of anti-collision devices, and share knowledge between all actors concerned.

Some protected European species are more vulnerable to electrocution and collision due to their morphology, behavior, and distribution.

The following 13 species are project’s priority species for the mitigation of power line impacts:

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