Driving Innovation

ComEd takes flights to protect birds around power lines

May 7, 2021

As part of ComEd’s commitment to protecting birds around power lines and minimizing the potential for power outages, the energy company took to the skies to get a bird’s eye view of northern Illinois.

Two biologists traveled via helicopter over three days to search for active eagle and osprey nests located on or near ComEd’s equipment. The results identified that there are currently 93 eagle and 22 osprey nests in ComEd’s service territory.  

Nests found during survey

The next step is to evaluate each ComEd pole near these nesting locations to assess if they are avian safe. Since birds often sit at the top of the poles, ComEd may retrofit them, which adds space so there is no risk for electrocution. ComEd will also assess the nests found during the survey and relocate them on platforms if there is a safety risk. 

Nest on platform

“We’re committed to finding innovative solutions to ensure our customers have reliable power,” said Sara Race, ComEd principal environmental program manager. “It’s the best of both worlds when we’re also able to protect wildlife in the process.” 

This survey happens every five years and is part of ComEd’s Avian Protection and Management Program that launched in 2007 to minimize avian collisions with power lines and ensure birds are protected from electrocution.

Although it’s rare for a bird to collide with ComEd’s transmission lines, ComEd crews also protect birds in flight by manually installing diverters on power lines – a process that requires a transmission overhead lineworker to be hundreds of feet in the air, in a helicopter, equipped with a platform and strapped on with a safety harness, to attach the diverters to the line. This contraption helps make the lines more visible to birds to prevent collisions.

ComEd crews installing bird diverters