Wed, 06 Jul 2022

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HEFEI, May 23 (Xinhua) -- Bird-induced power outages have always been problematic for power grid maintenance work. To solve the problem, a crew of electrical workers looked for ways to protect the birds while ensuring their work goes uninterrupted.

Wu Chunlin, an electrical worker in Chizhou City, east China's Anhui Province, has found joy in watching birds and protecting their nests while conducting his daily patrol along the 35-km high-voltage power lines.

"There are six birds' nests along the way, all built on power towers about 30 meters above the ground. I am sure there are eggs in the nests because I usually find two big magpies flying in and out together," said Wu, who volunteered to protect these nests.

Chizhou, a city along the Yangtze River, happens to sit on a major bird migration corridor. A total of 350 different bird species have been spotted in the city.

Power lines and transformer substations are also spread all over the city, through which electricity is transmitted to the Yangtze River Delta region, home to the provinces of Zhejiang, Jiangsu and Anhui as well as Shanghai.

"We used to remove the birds' nests whenever we found them on power towers, but they would build new nests quickly. We didn't know how to deal with them properly," said Wu.

However, in April, a workstation established in Chizhou looking to keep both the power grids and birds safe found a solution to this dilemma. Instead of removing the nests, electrical workers are advised to leave them untouched as long as they pose no threat to power grid safety.

If the nests are in dangerous sections and risk causing a power outage or fatal injuries to the birds, the workers will relocate the nests to a safe place nearby, said Wang Shi, who initiated the bird protection workstation that consists of 61 volunteers, all electrical workers.

With years of experience and observation, they now know to put artificial eagles on critical sections that are prone to be disrupted by birds' activities.

The group has preserved 27 birds' nests on power towers so far and placed a QR code sign at the bottom of each tower, which contains information about the protected birds and the designated guardian of the nest.

Thousands of kilometers away from Anhui on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, electrical workers are also working on new approaches to keep both the power grids and birds safe. In northwest China's Qinghai Province, a total of 20 artificial nests made of rattan and straw have been placed on safe spots on power towers to accommodate birds.

Proving popular with wild birds, all of the man-made "homes" were quickly snapped up and later housed baby birds.

"Workers used to drive birds away to protect the power grid, but now they are trying to protect the birds and the power grids at the same time to achieve harmony. It's a remarkable move," said Guo Yumin, a professor from Beijing Forestry University.

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