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Blog posts after 1 Feb 2018 about Steppe eagles tracked from Oman can be found at the Steppe eagle blog

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Vultures and power lines

In Oman and elsewhere around the world Egyptian vultures perch on powerline and pylons.  Below are a couple of Google Earth images showing that the vultures we are tracking are no different. Globally, electrocution of large soaring birds that perch on power lines is a problem, although not with the pylons in these images because the physical dimensions of the pylons make electrocution very unlikely.  The power lines that pose the biggest risk are medium voltage lines in which the hot elements are not well insulated and are close to a grounded element.  Such power lines exist in parts of Oman.  In some countries, power lines are being retro-fitted with devices to make them safe and power companies are adopting new power pole designs to reduce the risk of bird electrocution. Here is some good news about power companies taking an active interest in modifying power transmission lines to cause less impact on soaring birds http://www.birdlife.org/europe-and-central-asia/news/saving-birds-electrocution-birdlife-bulgarian-partner-rewarded-its-work .  Generally speaking, the species that are at greatest risk are large soaring birds, including eagles and vultures, and these species are sometimes rare.

Shadow of power pylon on which an Egyptian vulture fitted with a satellite tag regularly perches. 

The regular, linear spacing of locations corresponds to the location of power pylons on which Egyptian vultures perch.

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