Across China: Power firm protects birds from dangers of transmission lines

(Xinhua) 13:35, July 07, 2022

HARBIN, July 6 (Xinhua) -- Fastening his safety harness anchored to a pylon, Na Changchun lifted materials and equipment about 30 meters above the ground and started to install a square protection board meticulously.

Two meters above Na's head was a nest for a family of oriental white storks, and three birdlings were resting quietly inside.

As an electrician of the State Grid Qiqihar Electric Power Company in Qiqihar City, northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, this is the sixth time Na has installed the protection board on a pylon this year.

However, the board is not only to ensure a stable power supply but to protect the birds from the dangers of transmission lines.

Living a happy life on the power towers, the oriental white storks sometimes turn out to be a headache for the electric power department, as their acid droppings increase the possibility of power supply tripping and may cause pollution flashover, which poses a risk to the birds' safety.

Qiqihar is believed to be a paradise for migratory birds thanks to its vast wetland area and its Zhalong nature reserve serves as the habitat of over 190 types of rare birds including red-crowned cranes.

Every year from mid-March, a large number of migratory birds fly in to "start a family and raise their children."

The endangered oriental white stork, a migratory bird species under first-class national protection, is mainly found in Russia's Far East and northeast China.

As solitary birds, oriental white storks like to build nests on isolated trees. Although the wetlands in Qiqihar are rich in water and grass, tall trees are rare, so the power transmission towers in wetlands have become the first choice for oriental white storks to settle down.

"The returning oriental white storks were spotted near transmission lines for the first time on March 12 this year, and on March 20 some of them chose the power towers as home," said Wang Zhimin, an electrician from the company.

This year, power towers in Qiqihar have attracted over 50 pairs of the birds to build nests, bringing the total number of such nests to more than 110, with each bird nest registered with a serial number by staff from the company.

Moreover, the State Grid Heilongjiang Electric Power Company has launched a campaign in the province to offer better protection for the birds.

In addition to installing protection boards, the company also takes measures such as setting up artificial nesting sites and increasing patrol frequency along the transmission lines.

Some 100 km north of Zhalong nature reserve in the Wuyuer River nature reserve, a couple of white poles standing along a row of power towers are conspicuous in the wetlands.

"Last winter, the State Grid Qiqihar Electric Power Company, in cooperation with our reserve, built 16 artificial nesting sites in the wetlands. This year, six pairs of oriental white storks have settled down in them," said Zhang Mingyi, an official with the Wuyuer River nature reserve, pointing at the poles.

The bowl-shaped nesting sites, which are 15 meters above the ground on top of the poles, two meters in diameter and 0.6 meters deep, have stronger wind resistance, making it easier for oriental white storks to build their nests, said Zhang.

The sites are safer and more comfortable, unlike power towers which may present a danger of electric shock to the birds, Zhang added.

"This winter, the reserve will continue to work with the power department to build new nesting sites for more oriental storks to improve their living conditions," said Zhang with a smile. 

(Web editor: Sheng Chuyi, Liang Jun)


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