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Old 06-14-2006, 04:26 PM
Kimstu Kimstu is offline
Join Date: Dec 1999
Posts: 19,822
Originally Posted by InvisibleWombat
Thousands per year? You wouldn't happen to have a cite for that, would you?
It's not necessarily an unrealistic estimate. The wind energy facility at Altamont Pass in California is estimated to kill about 900 to 1300 raptors per year.

Note, however, that:

a. Altamont Pass has, according to the factsheet on that site, the most raptor kills of any wind facility in the world (due to poor design and placement in a major raptor migration corridor);

b. the kill estimates aren't just for "hawks and eagles" but include all other raptors such as owls;

c. the raptor kills are not just from direct impacts (aka "turbine strike") but from other, non-turbine-specific causes too, such as electrocution and poisoning (due to rodent control efforts). Other types of power plants also have problems with bird electrocutions, and other types of industry also have problems with bird poisonings.

So, the bottom line is that yes, wind energy plants do kill hawks and eagles, but so do other types of power plants and other types of industries.

Bear in mind also that some other types of power plants also kill birds by degrading the air quality with emitted pollutants, which wind turbines don't do. (And of course, that isn't counting the results of destruction of bird habitats by related activities like mountaintop-removal mining to get at the coal which is burned in those power plants.)

So all in all, given that the average bird mortality due to turbine strike is estimated (.doc) to be about 1--2 birds per turbine per year, wind farms on the whole are not a serious wildlife threat. Of course, that doesn't mean we shouldn't be careful where we put them, and try to mitigate their most significant impacts. But arguing against wind energy on the grounds that it's bad for birds, without comparing it to the effects of other forms of energy generation on bird mortality, is disingenuous.