Lines and birdlife

in

EN14

Terna's High-Voltage lines represent a collision risk for birdlife. It is for this reason that, in stretches of line characterised by frequent bird crossings, special devices known as “dissuaders” have been installed. These, due to their size and the noise they make when struck by the wind, make electricity lines more easily perceivable to birds in flight. 

DISSUADERS FOR BIRDLIFE PRESENT ON THE NTG

2012 2011 2010
Total number of dissuaders 11,146 9,116 8,917

In 2012 Terna again supported the “nests on pylons” initiative in collaboration with the ornithological association Ornis italica, which over the years has enabled the installation of more than 500 boxes suitable for nesting birds. The constant monitoring of the boxes by a group of researchers has enabled the collection of numerous biological and ethological data and revealed a positive effect in terms of biodiversity. Among the main species that have occupied the nesting boxes we can note Kestrels, a species of small falcon that have adapted to living in human environments, Scops Owls and European Rollers.

Also in the 2012 reproduction season, the boxes mounted on pylons were monitored to collect reproduction data (see the box below).

During 2012 Terna assigned a new scientific research project to Ornis italica, focused on the European Roller, a bird which has significantly increased its presence in Italy, in particular in the Province of Viterbo where the research activities were carried out, thanks to nests placed on Terna's pylons. The study was concerned with aspects of genetics and behavioural ecology.

The analysis of movements will make it possible to better understand the environmental needs of this species in relation to agricultural practices and to choose the most suitable habitats in which to install new nesting boxes.

TERNA’S NESTING BOXES AND MONITORING BY SPECIES HOSTED

Boxes installed in 2012 (*) Young born in 2012 Young ringed in 2012
TOTAL 360 123 71
Red-footed Falcon 37 3
Kestrel 214 n.d. 25
European Roller/Scops Owl (**) 108 117 42
Peregrine Falcon 1 4 4
(*) Nesting boxes for European Rollers are also used for nesting by Scops Owls. (**) Approximate values which take into account the boxes originally installed and their possible wear over time.

In 2012 Terna also continued its collaboration with Ornis italica for the birdcam” project, which involves the installation of video cameras in artificial nests to follow the birds' reproduction period on-line, on the website www.birdcam.it and on the Terna website. The link via the webcams also makes it possible, among other things, for researchers to scientifically observe the animals' behaviour remotely. 

More new information on birdlife from the nests on Terna's pylons

The 2012 reproduction season reserved many surprises for researchers and birdwatchers who, thanks to the scientific collaboration agreement between Terna and Ornis italica, were able to follow all the stages via the webcams and “eggcams” placed inside the artificial nests.

European Rollers, in their third year of monitored presence in nests placed on Terna's pylons in Upper Lazio, between Tuscania, Monte Romano, Vetralla and Blera provided great satisfaction, in terms both of occupation of nests and subsequent hatchings of newborn chicks, and new information on the behaviour of the species.

Compared with 2011, occupation of the nesting boxes increased by one, up from 25 to 26 nests and as many as 22 couples of Rollers managed to bring their brood (an average of 4.5 chicks) to fledge. Of the approximately 100 new chicks, half were ringed by the Ornis italica ornithologists.

This high success rate is due, apart from the exceptional temperatures, which this species likes, to the installation of anti-predator protection on the nests. This is  a Plexiglas tube applied to the nest entry hole which made it inaccessible to birds of prey. During monitoring carried out in the reproduction period, it was noted that nests preyed upon the previous year were not reoccupied, an unambiguous sign that the birds remember places.

Again in this zone, thanks to the rings, the return to the “pylon of birth” of a young couple of Rollers, probably born in 2011, was noted, confirming the colonial nature of this species.

The ringing stage coincided with a further scientific experiment, aimed at carrying out a study on the movements of European Rollers and Kestrels by positioning a small GPS recorder on the back of a number of birds. This is a sort of backpack, weighing a few grams, capable of tracking the bird's annual movements. Observation in the days after applying the GPS did not reveal anomalous behaviour or signs of suffering; the hope is to manage to recapture a GPS carrier the year after to find out the bird's migratory routes.

The presence of Scops Owls has fallen, probably owing to the dominance of European Rollers in the area. The former seem to have moved towards Rome, at about 20 km from the “historical” nests near Viterbo. To support this apparent shift of the species, the Ornis italica volunteers installed 15 new nests for Scops Owls near S. Angelo Romano.

On the other hand, the number of Kestrels remained stable. For these birds 50 nests were replaced in the area of the Marcigliana and Decima Malafede reserves, near Rome.

New information came also from the couple of Peregrine Falcons, Aria and Vento, which for years have been breeding in an urban environment, in a nesting box placed on the terrace of the Faculty of Economics of the “La Sapienza” University in Rome.

This year in fact Terna's webcam recorded, right from when the eggs were laid and for all the time the young were in the nest, the presence of a third individual, later identified by the ring number as a young male produced by the couple in 2011, that supported the parents in managing the brood. This was completely unheard-of behaviour also because the few similar cases documented in the literature always tell of a cruel end for the young. The two exceptional snowfalls of February 2012 in Rome, gave us really extraordinary images of Aria and Vento's nest. The “Report on Activities in the 2012 reproduction season” by Ornis italica is available on the Terna website (www.terna.it/sostenibilità/biodiversità/XXX)

Terna's commitment to protecting biodiversity was recognised, at the international level, by Vigeo, the first European extra-financial analysis agency which, in October 2012, published a study on biodiversity protection strategies based on an analysis of the conduct of 127 European listed companies divided into 9 sectors.

The study found that 74% of the companies examined state that they are committed to protecting biodiversity but only 25% of these have identified the main impacts on biodiversity connected with their business. With a score of 71/100 (average score: 34.5/100; energy industry score: 27/100), Terna took fourth place overall; third in relation to the relevance of its initiatives and eighth for the results obtained.

The study «Protéger la Biodiversité: les entreprises sont-elles responsables?» can be downloaded from Terna's website at the address:      
http://www.terna.it/default/Home/sostenibilita2/sost_ambiente/sostAmb_biodiversita.aspx