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Hundreds of dancing birds trigger power outages in Scottish town

The mystery behind power outages varying from a few seconds to sometimes even longer in a village in Scotland was finally resolved.

The reason, small to medium-sized starlings.

When these land on power lines and dance in the village of Airth, it  causes power lines to clash together triggering an outage.




Neil McDonald, lead engineer at the Scottish Power said that in his 14-year-long career, he has never seen anything like this.

“It’s completely breathtaking to watch, although not something we’ve ever experienced before,” he said.

Even though the birds looked smaller, they were so many in numbers that it caused the wire to move up and down.



As explained by Neil, this movement of the birds caused the three wires on the poles to clash together and trigger a power outage that would last 10 seconds. However, if the damages were more, longer power outages happened in almost 50 homes, which get their electricity supply from these lines.

Scottish power officials weren’t able to get to the bottom of these power outages for months.

Ross Galbraith, district manager at Scottish Power, said that they had been putting a lot of work ahead of winters in order to ensure that their power system is resilient, however, the new discovery poses challenges for them.

Ross added that they will now work with experts to find a solution to this unique problem. The company had previously shifted the roosting geese to someplace else and hopes that they will be able to shift starlings as well.

Conservation officer at Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Toby Wilson believes that the starlings should be sensitively made to relocate to a nearby site. As per him, there has been a decline in their numbers due to loss of habitat, however, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classifies them in the category ‘least concern’.

Although starlings weigh around 51 to 100 grams, when thousands of them dance on the power lines together, it gets difficult for them to take the load. Apart from Europe, the birds are found in New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the United States.