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Diverters should reduce outages, keep big birds safe

DIXON – Noticed any bright-colored whosiwhatsits dangling from the wires over the Rock?

ComEd has installed Swan-Flight diverters on its power lines over the river to help keep large birds, such as migrating pelicans, from flying into them, knocking out power and electrocuting themselves.

ComEd engineers noticed an increase in the number of outages caused by pelicans colliding with power lines as the birds headed south for the winter, spokeswoman Noelle Gaffney said Tuesday.

Under low visibility, birds, especially large ones such as pelicans and owls, can hit the lines because they cannot quickly change direction.

ComEd recently finished installing the brightly colored, spiral- or disc-shaped devices last month; that should cut the number of collisions in half, Gaffney said.

She didn’t have statistics on the number of birds injured in the Dixon area, or on the number of outages caused by collisions.

The Dixon Park District has a bird rehabilitation program, though, and Executive Director Deb Carey said 15 to 20 birds have been electrocuted during her 26 years with the program.

In November, a pelican found below the lower dam in Sterling had burn marks on its wings indicating it may have been injured in power lines. It was sent to Hoo Haven Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Center in Durand, where it made a full recovery.

A few owls also have been injured in power lines, Carey said.

“By installing diverters, ComEd can proactively reduce the environmental impacts,” Gaffney said, “and provide a reliable power source to customers.”


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