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Mystery Power Outages in This Scottish Village Had the Most Unusual Explanation: Dancing Starlings

Starlings perch on a power line. (Image for representation/REUTERS)

Starlings perch on a power line. (Image for representation/REUTERS)

Neil McDonald, lead engineer at the Scottish Power has found the reason behind sudden power outages. On an evening walk, when he checked the power lines, he found that the starlings are causing these power cuts.

In a village named Airth in Scotland, there were multiple power outages for a few seconds and sometimes, even longer. Now, a video footage has revealed the reason behind these strange power outages in the village.

The video shows starlings coming together and landing on power lines. When they dance together, it causes the power lines to clash together and trigger an outage, reported The Guardian.

The video has been recorded by Neil McDonald, lead engineer at the Scottish Power. He was struggling to find a reason behind the power outages. On an evening walk, when he checked the power lines, he found that the starlings are causing these power cuts.

Neil said that in his 14-year-long career, he has never seen anything like this. He said, “It’s completely breathtaking to watch, although not something we’ve ever experienced before.” 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.

Commenting on the new finding, district manager at Scottish Power, Ross Galbraith said that they were not able to get to the bottom of these power outages which were happening at dusk. He 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’ as it is considered that there are 310 starlings worldwide.

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.