Curiosity: How can bird’s feet stay on electrical wires?

Birds-on-Wires

“How can bird’s feet stay on electrical wires and not be electrocuted?”

This was the question from my curious 7 year old daughter as we drove along.

Answer offered by me, the adult:

“Because their feet don’t conduct electricity. Electricity doesn’t pass through their feet because of what their feet are made of.”

Question from the older 15 old daughter:

” What are their feet made of?”

Well, I didn’t know.

It turns out that even my first answer was wrong.

Here is the simplest explanation I could find, from Rocky Mountain Power:

The bird is not grounded. It has not created a path of lesser resistance for electricity to follow. If the bird simultaneously touched two wires, the difference in resistance between the two wires would create a path through the bird and it would be electrocuted.

Well there you go! Apparently it works ok for small birds, but overhead electrical wires can be quite a danger for larger birds.

The important thing is not to stop questioning.

Kid’s don’t ask silly questions.

It’s not a silly question if you can’t answer it.

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