Out­ages curbed as ar­ti­fi­cial nests on elec­tri­cal tow­ers pro­tect birds

Shanghai Daily - - NATION - (Xin­hua)

PERCHED atop a 50-me­ter tall elec­tri­cal tower, two birds fly out of an ar­ti­fi­cial nest.

“There are bird eggs in the nest!” shouts Wang Hui, as he checks the tower’s power lines.

Wang, who works with the State Grid branch in north­west­ern Qing­hai Prov­ince, has been as­signed to check the op­er­at­ing con­di­tions of the power grid con­nect­ing Xin­ing, cap­i­tal of Qing­hai, and Lhasa, cap­i­tal of Ti­bet Au­tonomous Re­gion. The project, which of­fi­cially went into oper­a­tion in 2012, spans 2,530 kilo­me­ters and stands at an av­er­age al­ti­tude of 4,500 me­ters above sea level.

While the project has guar­an­teed elec­tric­ity for lo­cals, those who con­duct safety checks on the tow­ers have been trou­bled by one thing: birds.

“The project crosses the Hoh Xil na­ture re­serve, where a lack of tall plants has forced birds to make nests on the elec­tri­cal tow­ers,” Wang said. “Many birds have been killed or in­jured due to the high volt­age, and the cir­cuit fre­quently breaks down be­cause the birds rest on the lines.

“In the be­gin­ning, work­ers placed sharp ob­jects and mir­rors on the tow­ers, but this created more prob­lems. Some birds were in­jured or even killed by the sharp ob­jects.”

To pre­vent the birds dy­ing, State Grid of­fi­cials came up with an in­no­va­tive so­lu­tion: to build ar­ti­fi­cial nests in the safe ar­eas of the tow­ers.

“We started putting the ar­ti­fi­cial nests on the tow­ers in 2015,” Wang re­vealed.

So far, 86 nests have been placed and 50 more will be in­stalled this year. “We found that all our nests have at­tracted birds. Some have even hatched their eggs there,” Wang said.

“We had two choices, ei­ther in­stall safer re­pel­lent ob­jects and in­su­late the cir­cuits bet­ter so the birds don’t get hurt. Or we just put our own nests up.”

The nests are made out of rat­tan, a flex­i­ble type of palm tree. Work­ers like Wang carry these nests on their backs and climb up the tow­ers, plac­ing the nests on the tower’s plat­forms while sus­pended in mid-air.

“We usu­ally put a lit­tle mat­tress made of coir, the fi­brous ma­te­rial found on co­conuts, in each nest,” Wang said.

It is very cold at such a high al­ti­tude and work­ers have to cut off chunks of ice on the tower frames while climb­ing. The en­tire process can take half an hour. “By us­ing ar­ti­fi­cial nests, we not only low­ered the possibility of birds get­ting hurt, but the lines now have a more sta­ble power trans­mis­sion,” Wang said.

Ac­cord­ing to the State grid, since the mea­sures were taken, the num­ber of power out­ages has been re­duced twice a year on av­er­age.

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