Avian Protection Plan

Today, Coles-Moultrie Electric Cooperative (CMEC) has over 9,500 members and an electrical distribution system spanning over 1,900 miles. CMEC serves residents in Coles, Clark, Cumberland, Douglas, Edgar, Moultrie, Piatt and Shelby counties. In addition, CMEC also serves 850 small commercial business and large commercial accounts such as Lake Land College, Sarah Bush Health Center, Mattoon Precision, and Mid State Tank.

As the demand for electricity increases, the potential to negatively impact avian populations grows. With the help of Douglas-Hart Nature Center, Lake Land College, and Eastern Illinois University, CMEC has developed an extensive Avian Protection Plan (APP) to help protect, study and understand avian interactions with power lines.


Birds such as hawks, eagles, owls, osprey and ravens commonly use utility structures for perching, roosting, hunting and nesting. These behaviors are especially common in CMEC’s service area, since most of our territory is covered with farm land. Farming reduces forested land cover and thus makes natural perching habitats for birds few and far between. With no natural place to perch, birds resort to using utility poles and lines for perches. Depending on the bird’s size, age, and other factors, this type of behavior can be problematic.

While it is safe for most birds to perch on power-lines, larger birds (such as those listed above) are at a higher risk for electrocution. Due to their size, larger birds have a higher chance of contacting two parts of a power pole at the same time that have a difference in electric potential. This difference in potential is what electrocutes a bird. Even if a bird bridges a connection between an energized line and a non-energized line, the difference in potential is still there and the bird will be electrocuted. Typically, birds bridge a connection when they fly off of the pole, or when land on the pole; sometimes this can result in an outage.

Many techniques have been developed to help protect avian species from power utilities. One common method is to use special plastic caps on equipment to prevent a bird from touching multiple conductors at once. Additionally, there are also various types of insulators that can be installed on energized wires to prevent contact with the lines. Another frequently used method is to widen the distance between equipment on the poles; a good example of this is adding wider cross arms.

In addition to being electrocuted, birds can also be injured by colliding into power lines when they are flying. Although collisions are rare, they happen most in areas near water, and typically affect ducks, swans, geese, pelicans and other large water birds. A common method to prevent collisions is to make the lines more visible with specially painted devices.

Reporting a Bird Sighting

To report a bird sighting, use the map to pinpoint the location of the sighting. On your mobile device, press for a few seconds on the location until you see a dialog box appear (desktop users can right-click to bring up this dialog box). From there, enter the type of bird. You can also leave your phone number if you would like a follow-up call from CMEC.

If you would like to report a dead bird and do not want to use our online reporting tool you can contact us directly:

A large part of protecting local bird populations is understanding where birds are being electrocuted. By filling a report with us, you allow us to better understand how local birds are interacting with our lines. Additionally, your report will help contribute to ongoing scientific research, both nationally and locally.

What happens after a report is sent?

After a bird has been reported through CMEC’s website, a CMEC representative will be notified and a CMEC employee will come out to collect information on the bird. Under no circumstances, should you move the bird! If the user provides a phone number with their report, they may be contacted and asked a couple of additional questions. From there, the appropriate agencies will be contacted and the bird will be removed from the site. The information collected will be processed and included in future analysis.

Frequently Asked Questions