Looking at Bird Deaths

Ryan Zimmerling and colleagues provided estimates of avian mortality because of collisions with wind turbines. Their figures were based on carcass searches at 43 wind farms in Canada. A carcass count, however, will be low because scavengers remove some of the dead birds before a researcher can find them, some carcasses will be overlooked by researchers and some carcasses fall beyond the search area. Applying a correction factor, Zimmerling estimated that on average eight birds per turbine are killed each year. The numbers ranged from zero to 27 birds killed by each turbine, accounting for about 23,000 bird deaths across Canada. Of note: Birds seem to be better at avoiding wind turbines than bats. Reducing bat mortality from turbine collisions is proving more difficult than reducing avian collisions.

Zimmerling and colleagues also considered the effect of habitat loss from wind farm construction and maintenance. They estimated that 5,700 nests are lost each year due to this habitat loss. With wind farms predicted to increase tenfold in the next decade, we can expect a tenfold increase in this type of mortality.

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