Sunday, April 10, 2011

Wind power and bird strikes

We wanted to pass along a recent press release by the American Bird Conservancy concerning bird strikes and wind power which you can read below:

(Washington, D.C., April 5, 2011) American Bird Conservancy (ABC), the nation’s leading bird conservation organization, today distributed dramatic footage showing a wind turbine striking a bird—a poignant illustration of the dangers posed to birds by the burgeoning wind industry. The footage will also appear as part of a wind TV commercial to be run on major networks later this week. The commercial encourages viewers to sign a petition asking that wind power be made bird-smart.

Estimates by the federal government say that currently, about 440,000 birds are killed annually by wind farms in the U.S., nearly one bird every minute.

“While the present bird impacts from wind farms are unacceptable, we are doubly concerned about what will happen as the U.S. increases its wind capacity approximately 12-fold by 2030 to meet federal targets. At the present rate of wind development, we expect to see bird kills in the millions from wind farms in coming years,” said Michael Parr, Vice President of ABC.

“ABC supports wind power when it is bird-smart, and believes that birds and wind power can co-exist if the wind industry is held to mandatory standards that protect birds,” said Parr.

Bird-smart wind power implements siting considerations, operational and construction mitigation, bird monitoring, and compensation to redress any unavoidable bird mortality and habitat loss.

The dramatic video, which was provided to ABC courtesy of, was filmed in Crete by an American tourist in the area. It shows a Griffon Vulture striking a large, modern wind turbine similar to those commonly in use in the United States. The bird suffered a broken wing and has been in rehab for over one year, still unable to fly.

“Many people mistakenly think that birds will routinely avoid wind turbine blades, but in reality, turbines kill more than 40,000 birds each month. One encounter with a wind turbine is typically fatal, so there is no learning curve for the birds. Eagles, vultures, and hawks tend to be looking for prey as they soar, so they often fail to see the blades until it is too late,” Parr said.

ABC has scheduled a Congressional briefing on April 8th on the issue. More than 40 bird groups from 25 states have already signed on in support of the bird-smart wind campaign and the list of supporters is growing rapidly.

Once again, the link to the video can be found here. While wind power obviously negates many of the harmful effects of other power sources, and bird mortality numbers are minimal compared to other issues like cats and window strikes, the release correctly points out that the growth of the industry will mean more and more die each year. Simply put, we have to be cautious and mindful of when and where we place wind turbines. For example, keeping them out of major migratory corridors and areas where large numbers of birds breed or feed is critical.

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