A ‘shocking’ question

Birds on Wire

Dear Beach Bird:

Sometimes when I’m at school, I look out the window and see birds sitting on the power lines. Why don’t they get shocked?

From Marco, age 12, Linwood

Dear Marco:

Even us birds have to take a rest sometimes! So why don’t when we sit on those power lines? You might think it’s because those cables are insulated – covered by plastic, like power cables in your house. But they aren’t – that’s why it’s so dangerous when a power line comes down in the street.

Actually, the real reason I don’t get shocked when I sit on a power cable is because both of my feet are on the same cable. You see, electricity is like water: it flows from one place to another. Since both my feet are on the cable, and no other part of my body is touching anything else, the electricity has nowhere to go. So I can relax and focus on where my lunch is going to come from!

But, this also means that if any part of my body touches anything else, like a telephone pole or the ground, the electricity will have a place to flow to, through my body – so I would get shocked. Actually, this happens all the time, mostly to larger beards like hawks. Yeowch!


The NJ Beach Bird

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