Wind farms are hardly the bird slayers they're made out to be—here's why

June 16, 2017 by Simon Chapman, The Conversation
The potential to harm local birdlife is often used to oppose wind farm development. But research into how birds die shows wind farms should be the least of our concerns. Credit: www.shutterstock.com

People who oppose wind farms often claim wind turbine blades kill large numbers of birds, often referring to them as "bird choppers". And claims of dangers to iconic or rare birds, especially raptors, have attracted a lot of attention.

Wind blades do indeed kill birds and bats, but their contribution to total bird deaths is extremely low, as these three studies show.

A 2009 study using US and European data on bird deaths estimated the number of birds killed per unit of power generated by wind, fossil fuel and nuclear power systems.

It concluded, "Wind farms and nuclear power stations are responsible each for between 0.3 and 0.4 fatalities per gigawatt-hour (GWh) of electricity while fossil-fuelled power stations are responsible for about 5.2 fatalities per GWh."

That's nearly 15 times more. From this, the author estimated that killed approximately seven thousand birds in the United States in 2006 but nuclear plants killed about 327,000 and fossil-fuelled power plants 14.5 million.

In other words, for every one bird killed by a wind turbine, nuclear and fossil fuel powered plants killed 2,118 birds.

A Spanish study involved daily inspections of the ground around 20 wind farms with 252 turbines from 2005 to 2008. It found 596 dead birds.

The turbines in the sample had been working for different times during the study period (between 11 and 34 months), with the average annual number of fatalities per turbine being just 1.33. The authors noted this was one of the highest collision rates reported in the world research literature.

Raptor collisions accounted for 36% of total bird deaths (214 deaths), most of which were griffon vultures (138 birds, 23% of total mortality). The study area was in the southernmost area of Spain near Gibraltar, which is a migratory zone for birds from Morocco into Spain.

Perhaps the most comprehensive report was published in the journal Avian Conservation and Ecology in 2013 by scientists from Canada's Environment Canada, Wildlife Research Division.

Their report looked at causes of human-related bird deaths for all of Canada, drawing together data from many diverse sources.

The table below shows selected causes of bird out of an annual total of 186,429,553 estimated deaths caused by human activity.

Mark Duchamp, the president of Save the Eagles International is probably the most prominent person to speak out birth deaths at wind farms. He says, "The average per turbine comes down to 333 to 1,000 deaths annually which is a far cry from the 2-4 birds claimed by the American wind industry or the 400,000 birds a year estimated by the American Bird Conservancy for the whole of the United States, which has about twice as many turbines as Spain."

Such claims from wind farm critics generally allude to massive national conspiracies to cover up the true size of the deaths.

And in Australia?

In Australia in 2006 a proposal for a 52-turbine wind farm plan on Victoria's south-east coast at Bald Hills (now completed) was overruled by the then federal environment minister Ian Campbell.

He cited concerns about the future of the endangered orange-bellied parrot (Neophema chrysogaster), a migratory bird said to be at risk of extinction within 50 years. The Tarwin Valley Coastal Guardians, an anti wind farm group that had been opposing the proposed development.

Interest groups have regularly cited this endangered bird when trying to halt a range of developments.

These include a chemical storage facility and a boating marina. The proposed Westernport marina in Victoria happened to also be near an important wetland. But a professor in biodiversity and sustainability wrote, "The parrot copped the blame, even though it had not been seen there for 25 years."

Victoria's planning minister at the time, Rob Hulls, described the Bald Hills decision as blatantly political, arguing the federal conservative government had been lobbied by fossil fuel interests to curtail renewable energy developments. Hulls said there had been "some historical sightings, and also some potential foraging sites between 10 and 35 kilometres from the Bald Hills wind farm site that may or may not have been used by the orange-bellied parrot."

Perhaps the final word on this topic should go to the British Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. It built a wind turbine at its Bedfordshire headquarters to reduce its carbon emissions (and in doing so, aims to minimise species loss due to climate change). It recognised that wind power is far more beneficial to birds than it is harmful.

Explore further: Wind turbine warning for wildlife

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Lord_jag
4.4 / 5 (14) Jun 16, 2017
Its almost like this story was a personal letter written to Willie and his birdchopper references.
Guy_Underbridge
4.4 / 5 (14) Jun 16, 2017
Wiiiilllly!
for every one bird killed by a wind turbine, nuclear and fossil fuel powered plants killed 2,118 birds.
PTTG
4.4 / 5 (14) Jun 16, 2017
For once, I actually want to read a response from Willie.
WillieWard
1.7 / 5 (6) Jun 16, 2017
It is not put into account death of birds in copper and other mining activities essential to renewables, as well deaths from cheap coal, crucial to produce steel for wind structures. Moreover, nuclear power plants need much less ores, and have no exposed wind blades/solar mirrors to slaughter birds in midair.
Windmills are unstoppable bird-killers.
https://uploads.d...3cfc.jpg
julianpenrod
1 / 5 (5) Jun 16, 2017
A common tactic of the liar in trying to "exonerate" something.
Pretend that it's something else entirely that's being complained about, even set up a fake "movement" to emphasize that "complaint", then prove it is groundless, then declare the thing is completely safe.
They do it with aluminum in vaccines, shills for the vaccine makers pretending like that's what they're worried about, carefully avoiding mentioning all the other chemical and such that could be in the vaccines. Interestingly enough, moles also pretending that it is aluminum in chemtrails that damages the climate, when the actual chemical can be quite different.
In fact, windmill effects on birds are not necessarily so major. It's the fact they steal energy from the wind, keeping it from doing important things like moderating temperatures and distributing topsoil.
Cusco
4.5 / 5 (8) Jun 16, 2017
Willie, you appear to have forgotten to include bird deaths associated with car collisions with people driving to the job site to build the wind farms, the farms necessary to feed the people, and birds that run into windows in the homes the workers live in. Oh, and you need to add the birds that run into the wires carrying the electricity, and windows in the office buildings of the power companies too!
WillieWard
1.6 / 5 (7) Jun 16, 2017
..for every one bird killed by a wind turbine, nuclear..
Pictures/videos of birds and bats slaughtered by wind blades and solar mirrors are endless, while there is no photo proving that nuclear power plants kill birds, the deaths are biasedly linked to mining activities(roughly, for each 200k tons copper extracted it results in 4k tons uranium as by-product, and copper is essential for renewables).
http://savetheeag...ic12.jpg
http://www.youtub...AvD8VAbI
https://stopthese...ats1.jpg
http://images.chi...acre.jpg
https://savetheea...pain.jpg
http://www.birdli...aria.jpg
https://stopthese...pg?w=460
http://www.sydtid...B8rn.jpg
WillieWard
1.7 / 5 (6) Jun 16, 2017
"In truth, nuclear power is the best energy source, in all respects. That's why greens are forced to use lies to fight nuclear power."
Da Schneib
5 / 5 (7) Jun 16, 2017
Welp, so much for @WetWillie.

I imagine there's a lot of avoiding going on. I really don't think I care to read any of it. I suspect we'll be seeing a lot of links to this article from now on.

Five different groups of scientists checked it out and you're wrong. Get over it.
WillieWard
1.6 / 5 (7) Jun 16, 2017
"... wind turbine at its Bedfordshire headquarters to reduce its carbon emissions (and in doing so, aims to minimise species loss due to climate change)."
Wind turbines are not reducing carbon emissions even after trillions of dollars spent, e.g. Germany and California. All steel and other materials used in wind turbines depend on cheap fossil fuel to become economically viable; all wind components are mined, manufactured, transported and installed thanks to cheap fossil fuels; cost-effective batteries do not exist and are ever from becoming reality, so it is also coal and other fossil fuels that keep lights on when wind is not blowing.
"2000 tons of raw material per average MW ever delivered. All 2000 tons processed via fossil fuels."
http://rodmartin....d-power/
gkam
1.9 / 5 (9) Jun 17, 2017
Willie Ward - our own Baghdad Bob.
TheGhostofOtto1923
5 / 5 (4) Jun 17, 2017
The needless death of even one little bird is a horrendous tragedy. In addition to tearing down all the windmills I think we should kill all the cats. See the article on cat zapper exclusion fences.

The wailing would be deafening.
rednest1
2.6 / 5 (5) Jun 17, 2017
It could also be said, regarding Chapman's actual area of expertise, that "Cigarettes do indeed kill people, but their contribution to total human deaths is extremely low."

So besides avoiding the obvious question of whether it is justified to add to the toll by erecting wind turbines or whether erecting those wind turbines reduces deaths by other plants to a degree that mitigates their own toll, he also dodges the issue of wind turbines' unique threat to raptors and bats.
WillieWard
2.3 / 5 (3) Jun 17, 2017
"Wind farms and nuclear power stations are responsible each for between 0.3 and 0.4 fatalities per gigawatt-hour (GWh) of electricity while fossil-fuelled power stations are responsible for about 5.2 fatalities per GWh."
It is almost impossible to have affordable steel structures and other components for wind turbines without cheap fossil fuels.
"Global steel production is dependent on coal. 70% of the steel produced today uses coal."
https://www.world...produced
Most of wind/solar bird-choppers do not produce enough energy along their lifetime to pay back the energy spent in their manufacturing/mining/transporting/installing processes.
PTTG
3.7 / 5 (3) Jun 17, 2017
It's adorable, actually.
Da Schneib
3.7 / 5 (3) Jun 17, 2017
It could also be said, regarding Chapman's actual area of expertise, that "Cigarettes do indeed kill people, but their contribution to total human deaths is extremely low."

So besides avoiding the obvious question of whether it is justified to add to the toll by erecting wind turbines or whether erecting those wind turbines reduces deaths by other plants to a degree that mitigates their own toll, he also dodges the issue of wind turbines' unique threat to raptors and bats.
LOL, another #climatecrank @RedKill1 weighs in to try to stop the "bird choppers."

Stop posing as environmentalist when you're advocating killing a thousand birds with coal to every one killed by wind turbines.
Zzzzzzzz
4 / 5 (4) Jun 17, 2017
It could also be said, regarding Chapman's actual area of expertise, that "Cigarettes do indeed kill people, but their contribution to total human deaths is extremely low."

So besides avoiding the obvious question of whether it is justified to add to the toll by erecting wind turbines or whether erecting those wind turbines reduces deaths by other plants to a degree that mitigates their own toll, he also dodges the issue of wind turbines' unique threat to raptors and bats.


Very poor analogy. So poor that is completely worthless.
Zzzzzzzz
4 / 5 (4) Jun 17, 2017
Folks, the fact is that delusions are never going to be dispelled by logic or reason. You can still find Trump defenders without any trouble at all, as he publicly proclaims his guilt. Hell, he confessed to being a felony sex offender on national TV. The delusional types sailed right through it - denying reality all the way.

His supporters on Tangier Island, in the Chesapeake bay, were quite concerned about the rate at which their island is disappearing, until Trump called the Mayor and told him they don't really have to worry about it.

Humans will easily buy into a con that gives them some sort of comfort. That is the reason that Trump supporters can all be labelled cowards - people with no character, willing to swallow any size bait for a little comfort. A far cry from a person who would say "give me liberty or give me death", they instead whine for comfort, and will quickly relinquish all their rights for even the illusion of it.
Da Schneib
3.4 / 5 (5) Jun 17, 2017
One has to wonder whether @RedKill is a sock of @WetWillie.

I'm betting "yes." This is an obvious ploy to avoid taking responsibility for a hackneyed and dishonest ploy to continue lying about wind turbines.
rednest1
2.3 / 5 (3) Jun 17, 2017
Stop posing as environmentalist when you're advocating killing a thousand birds with coal to every one killed by wind turbines.


But it is Chapman advocating killing birds. The question remains whether killing birds (particularly raptors) and bats by wind turbines is mitigated at all by a reduction of deaths by other means.
Da Schneib
3.4 / 5 (5) Jun 17, 2017
@redkill, you are sussed as a sockpuppet after showing up to post twice on this thread with no more motivation than @WetWillie getting pwnt after five different groups of scientists proved the claim that wind turbines kill too many birds was a lie. And whether that evaluation is correct or not, you are lying about it too.

Five separate scientific evaluations have proven you're lying. Get over it.
rednest1
2.3 / 5 (3) Jun 17, 2017
…five different groups of scientists proved the claim that wind turbines kill too many birds was a lie…


But not a word yet about the unique toll on raptors and bats. Nor on whether the toll caused by wind turbines is mitigated by any decrease in the toll due to other causes.
rednest1
3 / 5 (2) Jun 17, 2017
I just noticed one of the related stories: "PacifiCorp Energy pleads guilty in bird deaths" https://phys.org/...ths.html

"Authorities counted 38 dead golden eagles and 336 other dead protected birds, including hawks, blackbirds, larks, wrens and sparrows. It's the second prosecution of a wind energy company for harming or killing protected birds. Duke Energy pleaded guilty last year to killing eagles and other birds at two Wyoming wind farms."
Da Schneib
3 / 5 (4) Jun 17, 2017
@redkill
unique toll on raptors and bats
It's not a unique toll. You're lying again. The side effects of nuclear and fossil fuel plants on both raptors and bats are hundreds to thousands of times larger, and that's not even mentioning domestic cats. I took my cat off the street, in a town along the Pacific Flyway, and because I do not let him out I fancy I have saved enough birds and bats to make up for twenty wind farms.

Now stop lying and adopt a street cat if you want to save raptors and bats. And keep the cat inside; there is nothing for them to do outside but cause ecological problems and get hurt, either in a fight or by a car.
EmceeSquared
2.6 / 5 (5) Jun 18, 2017
rednest1:
I just noticed one of the related stories: "PacifiCorp Energy pleads guilty in bird deaths"


Since it's established science that nuke plants kill as many birds per KWh as the wind farms replacing them, and gas/oil plants kill 15x as many as the wind farms replacing them, you'll explicitly insist on eliminating the gas/oil plants right? Further, you're even more vehemently insisting on the elimination of, or at least costly protection from, all the other killers vastly more lethal to birds listed in this article. Right?

Of course not. You're not even having your cat spayed. You're just another nukes troll, totally inconsistent in your fetishistic devotion to your one true love, the nukes fantasy.
rednest1
3 / 5 (2) Jun 18, 2017
Insults and subject-changing instead of argument; very convincing.
EmceeSquared
2.6 / 5 (5) Jun 18, 2017
rednest1:
Insults and subject-changing instead of argument; very convincing.


1. I didn't change the subject. I stayed hard on the subject, bird deaths by nuke vs wind generation. I thoroughly demonstrated that you don't care about bird deaths.

2. You just changed the subject to a lie about changing the subject, instead of bird deaths. And you were insultingly, baselessly condescescending about it.

3. You've got nothing in response to the post in which I destroyed you. Because you don't care about bird deaths. You only talk about them when spreading a lie to attack wind farms that are vastly superior in protecting birds from death.

4. You have only fallacies, the most abject wallowing in fallacies, denial/projection. You don't care about facts, logic or even discussion.

5. As I said, you're nothing but a nukes fetishist troll.

Don't expect to be treated with any respect, or even attention, now that you've proven yourself worthless of it.
Tom_Andersen
3 / 5 (2) Jun 18, 2017
The old total bird deaths trotted out again. What is the ratio of sparrows to condors in the US? 20 million to 1 ?

The actual numbers that matter is the number of raptors, egrets, swans, etc that are killed, which by the Spanish study quoted is many thousands per year in the US alone. Killing a single eagle is a huge fine for all industries other than wind. Wind has a law that says they an kill as many raptors as they like.
rednest1
3 / 5 (2) Jun 18, 2017
...bird deaths by nuke vs wind generation...

According to the US Energy Information Agency, world nuclear-generated electricity has been increasing since 2012 after only a couple of years of decreasing, and fossil fuel–generated electricity has never stopped increasing. So how many birds (not to mention bats) has wind energy saved?
antialias_physorg
3.7 / 5 (3) Jun 18, 2017
So how many birds (not to mention bats) has wind energy saved?

All the ones that would have died extra if the energy from renewables would have to be covered by fossil fules/nukes, too. Duh.

Killing a single eagle is a huge fine for all industries other than wind. Wind has a law that says they an kill as many raptors as they like.

Soooo...you think fossil fuels are selective and don't kill eagles? That's some serious magic, that. Got any other fantasies you want to share*?

*preferrably on a forum for psychoanalysis - not here.
WillieWard
2.3 / 5 (3) Jun 18, 2017
Stop posing as environmentalist when you're advocating killing a thousand birds with coal to every one killed by wind turbines.
Faux-greens are completely dishonest or delusional or both.
Cheap coal is essential to manufacture steel structures for wind bird-choppers.
"Basic rule: you can't build a windmill with a windmill."
"Global steel production is dependent on coal. 70% of the steel produced today uses coal."
https://www.world...produced
"2000 tons of raw material per average MW ever delivered. All 2000 tons processed via fossil fuels."
http://rodmartin....d-power/
sandcanyongal
1 / 5 (1) Jun 20, 2017
How many of you live near or can see wind turbines from your yards. I can.

First of all wind energy stands on its own not window hits, oil or any other comparision. I've lived near the Pacific Crest Trail near Mojave for almost 13 years and witness the plunking of wind turbines in ever possible place that wind energy developers could put them.

I have not seen a single Golden eagle, Bald eagle, California condor, red tail hawk, and only 1 or 2 bats in the sky since the last multi thousand wind turbines were installed in the Tehachapi Pass beginning in 2007.
The Environmental Impact Report for North Sky River, a wind farm in Jawbone Canyon below Butterbredt Springs follows:
pcd.kerndsa.com/planning/environmental-documents/eda/215-north-sky-river-wind-energy-project-and-jawbone-wind-energy-project
If you go down to Volume 4, actual bird mortality studies can be viewed.
WillieWard
3 / 5 (2) Jun 20, 2017
"Wind turbines could reduce hoary bat population 90% and drive species to extinction, new study finds."
http://www.scienc...16310485
Coyotes and other carnivorous clean up birds and bats' carcasses.
Da Schneib
3 / 5 (2) Jun 20, 2017
Typically, like all #climatecranks, @WetWillie just waits a little while then doubles down on the lie.

Sorry, @WetWillie, you're going to be seeing this thread in your nightmares, every time you iie about how many birds wind turbines kill compared to any other method of generation but solar.

Get over it.
WillieWard
1 / 5 (1) Jun 20, 2017
Intermittent renewables destroy huge areas habitat, kill animals, and require unnecessary mining, human footprint is big enough without this boondoggle.
"​Jamestown Rhode Island Whale Death Infra-Sound Questions"
https://patch.com...uestions

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