Birds on Electrogrid

Project area

Because rather dense grid of the high voltage overhead electricity transmission lines covers whole area of Lithuania, the most of project practical conservation actions will contribute on the changes of the protection status for several species as well as long list of the territories. The exception are White stork and Common kestrel, which protection status is targeted with C.3 and C.4 project actions accordingly.

Basing on the experience from different European countries, overhead electricity lines and, namely, high voltage power lines, from the point of view of collisions with wires and electrocution, are the most dangerous for certain birds – mainly heavy body and soaring large bird species, and, especially, for their concentrations. Among those species, for Lithuania, especially, targeted are swans (Mute swan and Whooper swan), geese (White-fronted, Bean, Greylag), ducks (almost all, which make numerous concentrations), White stork, Common crane. While, from the point of view of electrocution on high voltage overhead electricity lines, for Lithuania targeted are White Stork and White-tailed eagle (last
species with smaller extend). This list clear indicates which sites/areas in the country might be important for the protection for above mentioned species and, accordingly, where an impact of the high voltage overhead electricity transmission lines on them is the most expected. For waterfowls and crane, the most sensitive from the point of view of the collision are areas with high concentration of staging birds (migratory, wintering) with some exception for few areas with high density of the breeding Whooper swan and Common crane. Above mentioned waterbirds staging areas with high concentration of birds, quite often has Natura 2000 status as designated Special protected areas (SPA) or are of international importance because of big number of birds. This is why implementation of this project in Lithuania will make a significant contribution to conservation of migratory waterfowls – swans, geese and ducks as well as Common crane on the EU scale, since project actions will has positive impact on the staging concentrations of the above mentioned birds during seasonal migration and wintering periods. Whereas during other seasons – breeding, wintering or even other migration periods, those birds staying in different EU countries. Besides, eight project sites, which support high concentrations of waterbirds and where (or in close vicinity) project practical conservations actions aim to reduce mortality of staging bird species within high voltage overhead electricity transmission lines grid (Project actions C.1, C.2) has SPA status (see attached picture). Among those are Birveta wetlands complex, Kretuonas Lake, Zuvintas wetlands complex, Kamanos bog, Mūšos Tyrelis bog, Curonian Lagoon, Nemunas river delta and Curonian Spit. Thus, above mentioned bird conservation efforts there, i.e. reduction of the bird mortality because of implemented bird collision mitigation measures, and improved their conservation status, also support implementation of the EU Birds Directive requirements. In case of Birveta wetland complex SPA, implemented mitigation measures for reduction
of the collision rate with electricity power lines of migratory waterbird concentrations, also supports favourable conservation status breeding Whooper swan population, which is trigger species of this Natura 2000 sites. Besides, whole area of Lithuania with rather dense grid of the high voltage overhead electricity transmission lines is important for White stork protection against the electrocution. From the EU approach, all conservation efforts, which support favourable conservation status of Lithuanian population of the White Stork, which constitutes up to 10% of the EU population of this species are of EU importance. Thus, one of the project targeted bird species is White Stork (Ciconia ciconia). This
species is included in the Annex I of the EU Birds Directive, but is not included in the Lithuanian Red Data Book. The most recent complete inventory of the breeding population of the White Stork in Lithuania was carried out in 2010-2011, when the number of occupied nests was estimated at 19500.
The European population of the White Stork is estimated at over 180,000 pairs (112,500 in the EU), i.e. Lithuania accommodates ca. 7% of the European population (ca. 11% of the EU population). White Storks breed more densely in Western, Southwestern and Northern Lithuania, with density varying from 0.05 to 0.5 nests per km2.

Common kestrel (Falco tinnunculus), although having favourable international protection status (IUCN category – Least Concern) and widely distributed in Lithuania, is included into Lithuanian Red Data Book List and belongs to the category „Rare species“. One practical conservation action of the Project (C.4) is directly targeted to maintain the local species populations in Lithuania, which has unfourable conservation status, and lack of the nesting sites is one of the important threats. Thus, Project action C.4, which focused to reduce impact of this threat, covers whole territory of the country will directly contribute to the improvement of the conservation status of national species population. Overhead
electricity line poles have lately become important nesting locations for Kestrel in Lithuania. Up to 50% of the Kestrel national population breeds in the abandoned nests of large birds (mainly Raven) there. However, according to the national and, especially, EU regulations on the maintenance of the overhead electricity lines, all additional stuff (including nests of large birds) must be removed both from the utility poles and wires. Thus, during the EU joining period, nests of the large birds are regularly removed from the overhead electricity lines (including high voltage) network. C.4 action makes problems for falcons breeding population, because determines loss of the nesting sites. The possible
solution of the problem is installation of the artificial nests for falcons – special nest-boxes, on the electricity pylons. Such action is an alternative measure to compensate lack of the former abundant nesting sites – natural nests of large birds, and ensure their favourable conservation status. The experience of other EU countries has shown very positive acceptance of the installed nest boxes on the electricity lines pylons by Kestrel and other falcon species with a high occupation rate.

Projektą „Paukščių apsaugos priemonių įdiegimas Lietuvos aukštos įtampos elektros energijos perdavimo tinkluose“ (LIFE13 BIO/LT/001303) finansuoja Europos Sąjungos aplinkos finansinis mechanizmas „LIFE+“, LR Aplinkos ministerija ir projekto partneriai. Projekto pradžia – 2014 m. birželis, planuojama pabaiga – 2018 m. liepa.