West Seattle power outage: Crow vs. transformer again

July 25, 2014 at 10:11 am | In Utilities, West Seattle news | 10 Comments

City Light says 10 homes are still out of power northeast of The Junction as part of an earlier outage that at one point was reported to be up to 90. According to a photo texted to us, this was another case of crow vs. transformer, with the bird making deadly contact at 38th/Dakota. The current estimate for repair completion is around 12:30 pm.

10 Comments

  1. I thought City Light had fixed this problem. The solution, talked about at least 20 years ago when my husband was contributing to this research, was to install special transformers that are crow-proof. I wonder why that has not been done.

    BTW: These incidents probably cluster around this time each year just after the year’s crop of babies is fledged. Somehow the more mature ones get the message that they should not tamper.

    Comment by Toni Reineke — 10:26 am July 25, 2014 #

  2. Hard to tell from the photos sent to us in the last two cases whether the crows were young or not-so-young. I just don’t feel like publishing a photo of a dead bird. But somebody did place a few bright flowers next to it in memoriam. – TR

    Comment by WSB — 10:27 am July 25, 2014 #

  3. Replacing all the transformers takes money and time, and they probably only do it as they fail, and transformers can last decades (and there are probably many thousands of them that would need to be upgraded). Even when a crow causes an outage they usually fix the existing transformer and get it back in service quickly — replacing a transformer is a much longer outage and a much bigger production.

    Comment by Lamont — 12:10 pm July 25, 2014 #

  4. Oops. Should have clarified that the fix was a simple, inexpensive cover with a baffle–that is, if my memory is not misleading me!

    Comment by Toni Reineke — 12:57 pm July 25, 2014 #

  5. I wonder what time this happened? There was a crow riot early this morning in the Admiral district. Super loud and more of them than usual. I almost got up and told them to shut up but figured I would be contributing to the problem.
    They have been unusually loud all day. The retirement home has taken steps to prevent crows from getting into the trash but I have seen a lot of bagels in the alley providing breakfast.

    Comment by newnative — 12:59 pm July 25, 2014 #

  6. The earliest note we received was time-stamped in the 7 am hour … I just didn’t see it until later.

    Comment by WSB — 1:02 pm July 25, 2014 #

  7. That might have been around the time. I might have been hearing the Morning News in crow language.

    Comment by newnative — 1:06 pm July 25, 2014 #

  8. One of these happened a couple houses from us a couple weeks ago and a crow riot ensued. We heard the crows, went out and thought they were maybe trying to scare away an eagle, but couldn’t see any other offending bird. The transformer explosion/outage affected only one house, we learned much later when a neighbor e-mailed us about it and included a photo of the dead crow.

    Comment by WSB — 1:23 pm July 25, 2014 #

  9. I’ve read that crows will make a ruckus when one gets killed or dies, I guess it’s they’re way of mourning.

    Comment by payrollgirl — 3:43 pm July 25, 2014 #

  10. Hey Toni!

    The crows have been acting incredibly strange up here in the Junction over the past few weeks. I’ve been thinking about you every time the activity gets interesting. I’ve also been thinking of and about looking up a crow expert over at the UW — got any colleagues I could call? Maybe Trileigh knows someone too.

    The construction seems to have them in a tizzy. They’re flocking in huge flocks that seem to have numbers akin to starling flocks (and wheeling flight patterns like starlings too), and then they get all mad and fly off over the Duwamish valley over towards Rainier Beach. They return sometime so much later that I don’t notice it. They’re ALL OVER the construction cranes and yelling at each other ALL the time.

    Usually around the Junction we see them in smaller groups – singles, pair, maybe a dozen. They only get together in really large groups to mob the eagle that sometimes lives in one of the “Fauntleroy valley” trees. This big flock activity I’ve observed does not seem to be associated with an eagle or a seagull — possibly a smaller bird, but I haven’t noticed anyone non-crow near the flocks, and the flight pattern is different than mobbing, it has more “let’s go over there” to it.)

    Crows are so intelligent, it makes me wonder what has changed their behavior. New territory to fight over with the new construction? Disrupted nests from the construction? Or am I just noticing something I’ve not noticed before?

    -Alice

    Comment by Alice — 3:00 pm July 27, 2014 #

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