Know This: 5 Facts about birds on the line


If you have passed along the Marcos bridge in Cagayan de Oro City, chances are you have seen these birds settling by the high voltage wires.

But have you ever wonder how and why they perched?

Photo by Danielle MacInnes/Unsplash


Here are five facts to quench your curiosity:


Fact #1 | Songbirds

These types of perching birds are called passerines or songbirds, and Passeriform is the most significant order of birds with over 5,700 species. Most of its species inhabit every landmass on the planet except Antarctica and some oceanic islands.

Although often called as songbirds, not all of them have equally vocally adept or have musical calls or songs.


Fact #2 | Perching feet

One of the most prominent characteristics and reasons why these birds can perch it’s because of their anisodactyl arrangement of toes: the first toe directed backward and the other three toes directed forward. With this, it allows them to easily cling to both horizontal and nearly vertical perches on branches and tree trunks.

Photo via


Fact #3 | Gripped Posture

Photo by Ridham Nagralawala/Unsplash

Because of their ability to automatically flex and tighten as soon as they land on a perch, passerines can sleep without falling off.


Fact #4 | Perch to Rest

As the powerlines are hanging above the river, the cool breeze of the gushing stream is an ideal place for these flyers to rest. It is also a way for the birds to protect themselves away from predators while they are sleeping and unguarded.

Moreover, power lines and other man-made high tension wires have a similar attribute to what birds usually and naturally perch on.


Fact #5 | Electricity Tolerant

One of the main questions you might wonder is that “How on earth are these birds perching and not getting electrocuted?” Especially at times, not one but flocks of birds file along the high voltage wires.

Well, these puffy creatures are not shocked it’s because “electricity flows by the movement of electrons through conductors,” and birds are not good conductors.

Their cells and tissues do not offer electrons an easier route than the copper wire they’re already traveling along. As a result, the electricity bypasses the birds and keeps flowing along the wire instead. (

Aside from that, electricity bypasses perching birds because there’s no voltage difference within a single wire. However, in a scenario where the bird would flap its wings touching another electric wire with a different voltage, that’s the time it would get shocked.

This is because its body would become a path for the electricity to reach either the ground (no voltage) or a place with a different voltage. This is why power lines tend to be high in the air with plenty of space between the wires! (


What facts did we missed? Let us know in the comment section below!



anisodactyl. (n.d.) American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. (2011). Retrieved November 3 2019 from

Elizabeth, A. (July 2019). Why Do Birds Sit on Electrical Wires?. Sciencing. Retrieved November 3 2019 from

Mayntz, M. (October 2019). Guide to Passerine Birds. The Spruce. Retrieved November 3 2019 from

Do Birds Get Shocked When They Sit on Wires?. (n.d). Wonderopolis. Retrieved November 3 2019 from

Blayce Malaya

Content and Media Specialist at WhatALife! Born under the star sign Gemini, Blayce first discovered her love for writing through journal writing. Then, she stumbled upon fiction writing in 2016 and explored student journalism in 2018. Despite an amateur, Blayce continues to thrive and deliver quality content to her readers.