Here is an real video of a bird collision with a wind turbine. The video is not edited and is graphic, so please be advised.
Shifting to renewable energy sources has been a major focus of recent decades, but a recent study uncovered some unexpected consequences of supposedly eco-friendly machines, the Central Ornithology Publication Office reported.
The findings show wind turbines in Kansas are driving out breeding Greater Prairie-Chickens (Tympanuchus cupido) in the region. A team of researchers monitored prairie-chicken leks (mating sites) before and after the installation of wind turbines, and found the construction caused many leks within about four miles to be abandoned.
Leks are where prairie-chickens mate each spring. Over the course of five years, the researchers looked at 23 of these sites to determined how many male birds were present and how high their body mass was. The installation of the wind turbines proved to reduce both male presence and body mass. Lek abandonment was common in sites where there were seven or fewer males.
Birds manage to make such mammoth journeys despite various threats, including those posed by humans. In the Mediterranean region alone, millions of migratory birds are hunted and captured each year with guns, nets or twigs covered in adhesive bird lime.
At least two million are said to be caught in Cyprus each year but Egypt tops the list with 140 million birds being caught yearly on their way from Europe to Africa. On the way back they are also hunted in countries such as Albania, leading to population declines because fewer birds get to breed.
Humans have also affected birds’ migratory patterns. For instance, overgrazing in the Sahel – a grassland region on the southern edge of the Sahara where millions of hungry birds dine after crossing the immense desert – has caused plants to disappear and the area to dry up. The Sahara is now much wider and some birds, such as sand martins find it much harder to cross. Fewer sand martins visit Europe compared to 50 years ago.
Green energy is usually regarded as something good but for birds it can also be dangerous. A solar plant in the United States uses mirrors to focus sunlight onto a receiver to generate electricity but it’s affecting birds too.
Due to the reflected sunlight, the air above the solar plant gets hot, so hot that within the first year of operation about 500 birds flying over it got toasted by the heat or solar flux; another 500 birds died following collisions with the plant.
Wind turbines and power lines also pose a threat to migrating birds through collision or electrocution.
The problems for migratory birds caused by the expansion of various means for generating and distributing energy, inspired the initiators of World Migratory Bird Day to make this year’s theme: “Energy – make it bird friendly!”
Wind farms are popping up in rural areas of northern New York. Wind energy does not burn fossil fuels or emit greenhouse gases. Although wind farms may be a positive step for the environment, they also can kill birds and bats. Now, the company behind a wind farm in Copenhagen, N.Y., is working with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to determine how to prevent deaths of these winged creatures before they occur.
The collaboration between, OwnEnergy and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service started when the energy company said they were planning to install wind turbines on the Indiana bat’s turf. This tiny bat has been on the endangered species list since 1967. Recently, the deadly bat disease white-nose syndrome shot down any chance the population would make a recovery. It is illegal to kill an endangered animal, so OwnEnergy was required by law to come up with a conservation plan.
“Bats can be injured by direct contact with turbines as they’re flying and they can also have internal hemorrhaging called barotrauma that happens when the pressure drops right in the area of the wind turbines,” said Meagan Racey, a spokesperson with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Construction on the windfarm will not start till next year, but the company is already in the first stages of figuring out what they need to do to minimize how many bats die.
A battle that pits union jobs against the lives of thousands of birds is playing out in the scenic hills of the Altamont Pass, where a wind power company operates hundreds of turbines that environmentalists say are outdated and kill protected species.
The Alameda County Board of Supervisors must decide Tuesday whether to give Altamont Winds Inc. permission to continue its 828-turbine operation despite the company’s failure to meet two deadlines to “repower” its fleet with high-efficiency turbines that bird advocates applaud.
The new turbines would be less deadly because Altamont Winds would need fewer of them to create the same amount of power, and because they could be placed outside the birds’ flight paths. Birds would still crash into the spinning propellers, but the carnage could be vastly mitigated.
A U.S. District Court judge ruled a federal agency was within its rights when it issued a take permit to a proposed Champaign County wind farm that critics said could harm an endangered bat.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued an incidental take permit to the Buckeye Wind Project in 2013, allowing the wind farm to kill a limited number of bats over the life of the project under specific conditions. But Union Neighbors United, a group of area residents, filed a complaint arguing the federal agency did not follow strict enough standards in granting the permit, among other arguments.
Court documents show the Indiana bat is found along much of the Eastern U.S., with populations in Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri and Ohio, among others. It was listed as endangered in 1967 due to a decrease in population and a lack of winter habitat.
The bats can be found in the proposed wind farm area in June and July and they travel through Champaign County in the spring and fall as part of their migration, court documents show.
The President’s Fiscal Year 2016 Budget Request for the Department of Energy’s Wind Energy Program includes $12.4 million to “improve the understanding of risks to sensitive wildlife species and develop technologies that can mitigate those risks.” This is an important acknowledgement of the nexus between wildlife issues and wind energy development. Congress should support it and the Department of Energy should invest in this work regardless of what comes back from Congress.
Wind power is currently supplying 4.5% of our nation’s energy mix. This is a huge step towards addressing the increasing perils of climate change, and we need wind power to keep growing rapidly. As wind energy has grown, though, so has attention on the industry’s impacts to wildlife and particularly avian and bat species. Regrettably, there are not enough answers for alleviating impacts to particular at-risk species once turbines are up and running and we need a much better understanding regarding overall scope and scale of the impact.
Science-based solutions are the only way to get ahead of this issue. In order to keep the momentum for rapidly scaling wind energy while protecting important wildlife resources, we must address critical research gaps in wind-wildlife interactions. And both wind industry representatives and conservation organizations wholeheartedly agree on this need.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has confirmed another golden eagle has been killed at a Nevada wind farm near the Utah line, and conservationists are demanding federal regulators do something about it.
Fish and Wildlife Service spokesman Dan Balduini said Wednesday he couldn’t speculate about how the agency might respond after the second golden eagle in three years was found dead Feb. 9 at Spring Valley Wind Energy.
Golden eagles are not listed as threatened or endangered, but they are protected under other federal laws.
Two groups that sued unsuccessfully to block construction of the wind farm in 2011 say the government let the San Francisco-based company off last time with nothing more than a promise to do better at the site west of Great Basin National Park.
“There’s no incentive for a wind energy developer to commit to anything if they are not held accountable for whacking birds they are not supposed to be whacking,” said Rob Mrowka, senior scientist of the Center for Biological Diversity based in Tucson, Arizona.
“What they are basically saying is, ‘OK, government, we are calling your bluff. We don’t think you are going to do anything anyway,”’ he told the AP.
Not all things that are called “green” serve the purpose of nature conservation. Currently, many wind turbines are erected in Germany in order to increase the production of renewable energy by 30 percent until 2020. These turbines kill bats and are in conflict with national and international nature conservation legislation and international treaties such as the UN Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals which are applicable to migratory bats, and which has also been signed by Germany. Every year thousands of bats die because of wind turbines in Germany. Mitigation measures which are available to reduce the number of killed animals per turbine are available but not consistently put into practice.