Bird flight diverters: what’s the deal with those small squares on power lines?

bird flight diverters on power lines

We first explored this topic in 2015 when @mmoulton sent us this photo on Twitter of one of the small reflective squares hanging from SRP power lines in Gilbert and asked us what it was. It’s a great question, and we’re guessing other folks may be wondering the same thing.

SRP’s bird flight diverters help keep the lights on and birds safe

They’re called bird flight diverters, and they glow in the dark, spin and reflect light to get birds’ attention.

Did you know that bird-related incidents are the third-largest threat to the power grid? Bird flight diverters — or the “spinning things on power lines” as some folks call them — serve a dual purpose: They help keep the lights on and help preserve wildlife.

The lines @mmoulton asked about are north of a nesting site for Neotropic cormorants, a migratory bird that breeds and forages at ponds and lakes in Chandler and Gilbert.

National Bird Day

National Bird Day is recognized on Jan. 5, and each year the Avian Welfare Coalition uses the opportunity to teach the public about different topics as they relate to birds. Perhaps you’re already a nature enthusiast, but if you’re not, have you ever stopped to wonder about the world’s only potentially dinosaur-descended creature?

Related article: The bald eagle nesting cam is back at Lake Pleasant and is ready to catch the start of a bald eagle family.

We recommend taking some time on Bird Day to enjoy the Arizona Game and Fish’s Bald Eagle Cam virtually or to admire some of Arizona’s 560-plus species of birds in person. Either way, be sure to keep an eye out for the Arizona state bird, the Cactus Wren.

bird flight diverters 2015
Bird flight diverters look like reflective tags on power lines.

Safety takes flight with the Avian Protection Program

SRP’s Avian Protection Program strives to balance system reliability, animal protection regulation compliance and wildlife preservation. The program works closely with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Arizona Game and Fish Department to help protect wildlife near electrical equipment.

When a bird makes contact with a live power line, both the power grid and Arizona’s wildlife are at risk. That’s why SRP is committed to implementing creative solutions, such as our Avian Protection Design and Construction Standards. These guidelines require SRP to add bird-friendly products to certain power poles and electric lines. Measures to protect wildlife include:

  • Bird guards, covers and tubing
  • Avian-friendly framing, including longer insulators
  • Alternative perches to help keep birds off dangerous equipment
  • Adding more bird flight diverters

In the event of an incident in which a bird makes contact with a power line without reflectors, SRP’s Avian Protection Program conducts an investigation and takes additional measures to prevent it from happening again in that location.

Thanks to @mmoulton for the great question, and if you notice any bird issues in or around SRP power facilities, please give us a call at (602) 236-BIRD.



Audria is a writer and digital strategist, and has called SRP her "home away from home" for almost a decade. She lives in Old Town Scottsdale with her husband, 2 tiny humans and pups. As a local enthusiast, she spends her time exploring local businesses and sharing the treasures she finds along the way.

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