High-voltage power lines span Yasugawa along the Shinkansen (Bullet Train) tracks. Japanese black kites perch in trees on both banks along this section of the river, and often we can see them soaring overhead. Often they fly along the power lines. On October 12, 2014, I happened to be shooting video when a black kite hit a power line and fell. Fortunately, the kite recovered and continued to soar.

Later a crow was chasing a black kite. The kite flew up to and parallel with the same high-voltage power lines. It seemed to be using the wires, sometimes even brushing them or rolling around them.

I don’t know if that behavior is a defensive tactic or a form of play, but it seems that high-voltage power lines are both hazards and objects of interest to black kites. Power lines, pylons, and other tall human-built structures are part of the habitat in which birds live. In order to minimize harm in the future, we must document their interactions with our artifacts. Such knowledge can help us plan with more consideration for our non-human neighbors.

Published by Greg Peterson

Professor Emeritus, Kyoto Notre Dame University (1977-2020). Since 1980 I have lived in Shiga Prefecture, Japan, where I enjoy outdoor activities, especially photography, hiking, and cycling.

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