The Evolution of Bird Collision DevicesTimothy M. Chervick, Swift Creek Consulting Inc.Advisor to P& R Technologies Inc.Good morning, I am Tim Chervick of Swift Creek Consulting Inc. Salt Lake City, UT.I graduated from the University of Wyoming in 1973 with a Bachelor of Science Degreein Wildlife Conservation and Management. I have over 30 years field experienceconducting wildlife studies in the western USA, with a particular interest in raptorcollisions and electrocution mitigation methods. I also trained several species of falconsand hawks in the Sport of Falconry. During the last 6 years, I developed 2 power linemitigation products to prevent bird electrocution and collision. The first product is calledthe Vernal Triangle, which is constructed of Schedule 40 PVC electrical conduit and isused as an anti-perching device on crossarms. The next device I invented was a bird flightdiverter/ flapper caled “the FireFly.”John Bridges, Terrestrial Biologist, WAPA once stated:“Bird colisions with overhead wires have been reported in the United States at least since1876. A number of solutions have been tried all with varying degrees of success. Raptorsilhouetes, diferent color marker bals, “bird diverters”, flappers and various otherdevices to warn birds all work to some degree. However, depending on the target speciesand the object being marked, if you use the wrong type or color or device it may not beeffective could result in a maintenance problem or may even cause lines to go down.”For your information the 1876 bird collision reference John refers to is the first telegraphwire installed between Cheyenne and Laramie, Wyoming. Many songbirds were foundbeneath the wire after the line was complete and energized in 1876. This was the firstrecorded bird collision documentation in the West.Man and manufacturers have tried several devices to haze, divert, or prevent nestingover the years.Here are some of the materials that have been used on powerlines, a sort of evolution ofproducts in search of the most effective solution to bird collisions.1.) PLP and TYCO/Dulmision colored plastic spiral vibration dampers and swanflight diverters. Both manufacturers made metal preform armor rods for utilitywork, so this was attempt to divert birds with manufacture techniques alreadyknown. For birds, the drawbacks include lack of motion of the product and lowreflectivity. Colors of the plastic tend to fade after several years of installation.Installed and tested by the US Fish & Wildlife Service in San Luis Valley,Alamosa, Colorado for waterfowl collisions (APLIC study) (60-82 % effective).2.) Aerial marker balls–yellow color with black stripes were most effective. P&RTechnologies of Portland, Oregon manufactured several hundred units that wereinstalled in Texas for Central Power and Light for grouse collision mitigation withpower lines. (40–54 % Effective)
3.) Raptor silhouettes and decoys manufactured by Bird X Company–Birds wouldhabituate to the product over time due to it lack of movement and un-naturalreflectance off of plastic feathers. (No efficacy data).4.) South African ESKOM Bird Flapper sold by PLP and Kaddas Enterprises Inc.–Constructed of colored plastic in a teardrop shape and attached to a plasticmounting clamp by 2 split rings. Movement of product from side to side-in windyconditions with some movement capability. Drawbacks include plastic mountingclamp would vibrate down the conductor wire and cause “bunching” of thediverters toward the center of the span. This causes failure of adequate spacing ofdiverters toward approaching birds. Another drawback is the low light luminescentflapper must be purchased as a separate separately for luminescent flapper.5.) A new effective product for power lines, communication towers, and electricalsubstations has been invented by Swift Creek Consulting Inc. and is called“ The FireFly Bird Diverter/ Flapper ”. Hammarprodukter Company of Swedencurrently markets the product worldwide by P & R Technologies Inc. of Portland,Oregon and throughout Europe. (99–100 % effective).The FireFly utilizes reflectance of sunlight during the daylight hours and luminescentlight emission during dusk and nighttime hours. The diamond bar and luminescentmaterial make up the main components of this product. The diamond bar material causessunlight to become refracted during daylight hours, providing a “Sparkle Efect” whichcan be seen by birds and humans up to one quarter of a mile distance. This sparkling andrefraction of light allows the birds to change their flight pattern to divert around themarked wires and avoid collisions. Luminescent material (glow in the dark) that will emitultra-violet and visible light up to 12 hours has been added for bird’s to see the product inlow light and fog conditions. Birds are most vulnerable to collisions with wires duringsunset and sunrise hours, especially during bad weather. Nocturnal bird migrants can seethe glow material both in static and active wind conditions, which cause the FireFly torotate throughout the nighttime hours.The latest research on bird vision from Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, U.S.A.,states that birds can see in 2 different ranges of both visible and ultra- violet light. TheFireFly product was designed to use both peak vision ranges of light visible to birds (360nm and 560 nm wavelengths). Humans can see in the visible spectrum only.Wind rotation of the product using a unique swivel system increases the effectivenessof the product visibility to all birds. A bird’s vision utilizes both light and motion. Theangle of light refraction and position of the flapper unit is constantly changing due towind curents. The wind increases the “Sparkle Efect” in al approaching birds, wherewires have been marked with the FireFly product. This is accomplished by motion andlight–both components of bird vision.The product was designed with a durable uv-stabilized Snap Fast mounting clamp foruse on power lines in Sweden and Europe successfully for over 15 years by ABHammarprodukter Company. The clamp has held up well in severe cold weatherconditions along the North Sea coastline.
Other Snap Fast clamp features include the following: damage prevention toconductor wires because the clamps are padded on the inside, and no clamp vibrationcreep down the wire which eliminates “bunching” of the product toward the center of thespan. Line vibration on earth and conductor wire can exceed 60 lbs per square inch ontransmission lines according to Western Area Power Administration lineman.The FireFly product also has an added feature. The product will effectively haze allbirds within a 25 feet radius, when placed at bird’s eye level or above the bird. Birdsbecome nervous with the constant changes in the product position, since it begins torotate in the slightest breeze (3-5 mph wind current). The FireFly will therefore keepbirds off of structures such as power lines, buildings, substations, etc. and also providethe best avoidance measure for bird collisions with man-made structures. Bird hazing isdirectly proportional to increased sunlight / ultra violet index that exist at the installationsite. Over time, there are enough periods of sunlight and wind to effectively haze thebirds from the 25-foot installation area and thereby eliminate pest birds from roosting ornesting.