Why birds crash into wind turbines

[singlepic id=296 w=300 h=198 float=right]Professor Graham Martin at the University of Birmingham said large birds of prey and sea birds are particularly vulnerable to crashing into man made structures. “There are some studies that definitely show that sizeable numbers of birds will get clobbered by wind turbines in particular locations,” he said.

In a new study, published in the journal Ibis, he suggested the reason the birds are susceptible is because they have evolved to look for movement either side and potential prey on the ground rather than straight ahead.  “We have got two eyes in the front of our heads and our best vision is forward,” he said. “But that is not the case for a lot of animals. Their best vision is laterally or down.”

Prof Martin suggested that to avoid bird collisions in future, wind farms or other structures should try and distract birds with decoys on the ground or the sound of danger.

“People have tried to avoid the problem by looking at it from a human point of view,” he said. “But our vision is all about looking forward, we need to consider what will work for certain animals and even species.

“Armed with this understanding of bird perception we can better consider solutions to the problem of collisions,” he said. “While solutions may have to be considered on a species by species basis, where collision incidents are high it may be more effective to divert or distract birds from their flight path rather than attempt to make the hazard more conspicuous.”

Conservationists welcomed the study as an opportunity to reduce bird fatalities while supporting renewable energy.

The Royal Society of Birds (RSPB) is in favour of wind turbines, but has campaigned for the turbines to be sighted carefully so that they are not in the flight path of birds.

Wind turbines: ‘Eco-friendly’ – but not to eagles says Christopher Booker below:

A feature of these supposedly environment-friendly machines says Booker ” is their devastating effect on wildlife, notably on large birds of prey, such as eagles and red kites. Particularly disturbing is the extent to which the disaster has been downplayed by professional bodies, such as the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds in Britain and the Audubon Society in the US, which should be at the forefront of exposing this outrage, but which have often been drawn into a conflict of interest by the large sums of money they derive from the wind industry itself”

Read what Mr. Booker has to say by following the attached link.


Related Story from America:

Golden Eagle Killed by Washington Wind Turbines:

A golden eagle was killed by a wind turbine blade at a southwest Washington wind farm. State biologist says that it is the first known eagle fatality caused by a Washington wind project. The 10-pound bird had a broken wing and two broken legs after the April 27 accident at Goodnoe Hills Wind Project southeast of Goldendale, said Travis Nelson, the state’s lead biologist on wind power issues.

“This is certainly not the outcome that anyone who was involved in planning and permitting this operation would have wanted, especially the project owner,” Nelson said. “We have convened a small review group internally to discuss how we can avoid this in the future.”

Golden eagles are not listed as threatened or endangered, but federal law prohibits intentionally harming raptors.

Federal and state wildlife officials created new guidelines in April to reduce the effects on birds and wildlife from wind energy development. Environmental groups and utilities also worked on those guidelines.

They call for extensive surveys of proposed wind farms before they are permitted and a recommended 2-mile wide buffer around the nests of raptor species, including golden and bald eagles.

The dead golden eagle, a mature bird with a 6-foot wingspan, was found by a crew of URS Corp., a contractor for PacifiCorp., the Portland, Ore.-based utility that owns the Goodnoe Hills wind farm.

Wind project operators are required to document and report bird kills to state authorities. Nelson said the eagle’s death was reported promptly in this case.

“We have a robust avian protection program and we proactively take steps to assure compliance with all regulations,” PacifiCorp spokeswoman Jan Mitchell said.

Raptors are common in the eastern Columbia River Gorge, where shrub steppe and grasslands offer prime habitat for prey such as ground squirrels and pocket gophers. The big birds typically soar at about the same height as the turbine blades – roughly 300 to 400 feet.

 Although this is the first golden eagle death reported in Washington, raptors have been killed at wind projects elsewhere. At the world’s largest wind project, Altamont Pass Wind Power Resource Area in California, between 570 and 835 raptors are killed each year by wind turbines, the newspaper said.

A study by Shawn Smallwood, an independent wildlife ecologist who has also studied bird deaths at Altamont, concluded that raptor deaths have been far higher than predicted at Klickitat’s first wind project, the 200-megawatt Big Horn Wind Energy Project.

Smallwood estimates 49 raptors died in Big Horn’s first year of operation, compared to a company consultant’s projected annual toll of 31.

Deadly blades; death toll mounts as wind farms massacre birds of prey by Cathy Taibbi

Read the Open letter sent  to Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) Co-signed by Professor David Bellamy and Mark Duchamp listed at the bottom of Cathy’s story.


4 comments to Why birds crash into wind turbines

  • Confused.com

    “The Royal Society of Birds (RSPB) is in favour of wind turbines, but has campaigned for the turbines to be sighted carefully so that they are not in the flight path of bird” So they are in favour of wind turbines that are underground?

  • Mike Price

    I seem to recall reading about bats also being very badly effected by wind farms, and that radar was useful for deterring them as the bats foraged in areas where there was no radation.

    Do any of the farms actually use this method?

    Is anyone doing research to see how it might be possible to deter birds from colliding with the turbines?

    Finally there is a whole load of discussion on just how useful wind farms actually are, but that should probably remain a seperate discussion

  • Drake

    Birds of prey see wind turbines quite clearly, unfortunately they have no instinctive fear of them because they are not a natural hazard, the same can be said of traffic, hence millions of birds and animals that are killed on roads each year.

    Soaring birds have a particular problem as they circle in and out of the turbines. Watch the griffon vulture trying to join another sitting on a turbine on Utube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jwVz5hdAMGU