• # Why dont birds sitting on wires get an electric shock?

Why don't birds sitting on wires get an electric shock?
• The wires, on which we see the birds sitting, do have a very high potential. But, only high potential cannot cause flow of current. So, when a bird is sitting on such a wire, its whole body is at a high potential, but due to the absence of a lower potential, the current cannot flow. We will also not get any shock if suppose we are hanging by that wire. But, we will get a heavy shock as soon as our feet will touch the ground, since it will provide the necessary lower potential.

• Hi,

This is a very interesting observation ans frequently asked by many persons.

To understand the answer of your question you will have to know one basic concept of Electrical Engineering which I have explained below:

There are two types electrical power generation and supply through metal wires.

One of the types of electrical power is Alternating Current(A.C) and the other is Direct Current(D.C).

In A.C power is distributed to consumer points through 4 numbers of distribution wires out of which 3 numbers of wire carry 3 phase current and the 4th one is neutral wire. All the phase and neutral wires have specified clearances between them to avoid short circuits between phase and neutral wires as the phase wires are in high voltages.

Similarly in D.C power system the power is transmitted and distributed through 2 wires i.e positive and negative. The positive wire is in high voltage and negative wire is earth at the supply point and both are kept with specified clearnce to avoid short circuit.

When a bird seats in a single wire it does not come in contact with other wires, therefore short circuit between wires through the bird can occur.

At the moment of flying if it touches adjacent wire the bird will be electrocuted immediately as the electrical circuit is formed through bird.

• Hello,
This is a very good question and the answer is simple. Electric shock can occur only if a flow of current exists through the body. For current to flow a potential difference has to exist between two points along with a path between them.
When a bird is sitting on the wire, its feet are resting on the wire and its head is in the air. Air cannot conduct electricity and hence there is no closed path being formed through the bird. Also since air is not a neutral point, there is no potential difference between the bird's feet and head. As such current cannot flow through it and it doesn't suffer from a shock.
For the same reason we are asked to wear slippers while handling electrical equipment. Slippers are normally made of an isulating material and cannot conduct current. When you wear slippers and touch any electrical point like a plug, the slippers are preventing a closed path from being formed and thus blocking the flow of current through us.
On the other hand, if we touch the plug with bare feet, our feet are in contact with the ground which is at 0 potential whereas the plug has some potential. This creates potential difference and since our body doesnot oppose current flow through it, a closed path is also formed. Thus we suffer from electric shock.

• According to me birds can't get electric shock as they sits only single wire layer only , to get eletric shock the bird should sit or touch two wire layers at the same time but always birds sit only single wire so they won't get electric shock
There are some things that money just cannot buy, like manners, morals and intelligence.

• Actually Birds are bad conductor of electricity so the electricity not pass through the bird on the wire and flows continue to the copper wires to its destination.

due to this reasonbirds may sit on the wires of power lines and be safe. but every time they will not be so lucky if they touch the ground while touching power line. in this condition ,A bird, or any living thing, which touches a wire and also touches the ground creates a path to allow travelling of electricity through that body and into the ground (with no voltage).Whenever it occurs the bird can die.

• Hi,
The birds do not get the current because:
1] The flow of current is complete when the positive & negative meets,either in the way of passing the current from one wire to the another or from positive wire to the another terminal[earth].
2] The bird sitting on one wire,could not get the shock,due to incomplete circuit,while during flying,if the wings are touched to another wire,the bird get the electric shock,resulting to death.
regards,
Arun

• Almost all the explanations above are aimed at the concept that the circuit is not complete to allow the flow of current.

But why?

why don't the air in which it hangs act as a conductor?

Air in contrary to earth (good conductor and a pool of +ve and -ve charges) is a very bad conductor of electricity. It is termed as the perfect dielectric and the dielectric constant of air is one. It is taken as the reference value.

This dielectric property also explains why earth and the things on earth can sustain so heavy mega voltage lightnings and thunders. It is said that one lightning can provide the electricity for the world for few hours.

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