Eli5 Why birds are able to stand on electricity cables


Eli5 Why birds are able to stand on electricity cables

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>Eli5 Why birds are able to stand on electricity cables

Anyone with sufficient balancing skills is able to stand on a live overland cable.

A voltage is a potential **difference** between two points and someone or something touching one cable will have exactly one reference point – that cable. Therefore there can be no potential difference, no voltage. No voltage – no current – no effect whatsoever.

Now adding *another* reference point into the mix by also touching a different cable or a grounded structure would result in problems.

As long as they only stand/touch one wire at a time, there is no path for current to flow so they will be ok.

With domestic electricity we have to be careful as people because other parts of our bodies might be touching something grounded, such as a sink or radiator or pipe, or a ladder in the ground – forming a path for the current to flow.

(In recent years all electrician’s ladders are now made of fibreglass rather than metal, to make them safer.)

Electricity is flowing from a generator, through your city/house, into the ground.

When the bird is standing on a single wire, there is nowhere for the electricity to flow to the ground so it does not get electrocuted. Anybody can do this:

It gets a little more complicated when you touch two different wires at the same time, but again this is just a matter of creating a path for flow that electrocutes you.