How does wind energy threaten birds and bats?
Wind turbines and their associated infrastructure — notably power lines and towers — are among the fastest-growing threats to birds and bats in the United States and Canada. At the end of 2016, there were more than 52,000 operating, commercial-scale wind turbines in the United States and many more are currently under construction.
Estimates state that hundreds of thousands of birds and bats die every year when they accidentally collide with turbine blades. Fragile-bodied bats can even succumb to the pressures created when the giant turbine blades pass through the air, a phenomenon known as barotrauma.
Do we know exactly how many birds are killed by wind turbines every year?
Unfortunately, the answer is no. All we have at present are very rough estimates that are based on an accumulation of studies.
Many of these estimates are several years old and are likely now out of date. In the years since many of these data were collected, wind energy companies have built many more turbines, power lines, and other infrastructure. This suggests that the toll on birds and bats is now much greater.
Knowing the number and type of species affected by wind projects depends on the ability to detect birds at the site in question at some point during their life-cycle. This is a challenge for all of the reasons previously mentioned — reporting is voluntary, inconsistent, and out of date.
That said, we do know that many species of birds are impacted by wind turbines and that those species that are most susceptible to turbine collisions and/or displacement are raptors, night-migrating songbirds, and grassland birds.
“Unfortunately, many individuals — and even some conservation organizations — have embraced wind energy completely without asking the hard questions about its environmental impacts. The wind industry and its proponents have contributed to this situation themselves, downplaying its impacts on wildlife while simultaneously overselling the industry’s ability to mitigate associated problems. At the same time, industry players have worked behind the scenes to try to minimize state and federal regulations and to attack important environmental legislation, such as the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.” ~ (ABC)
What can be done to mitigate the effects of wind farms?
Collaborating with BirdLife International at a UN climate summit, various tools and best practices have been collected, to avoid and minimize the effects of wind farms and power lines on birds and bats, intending to support a sustainable deployment of renewable energy, environmental assessments, and mitigation measures below.
1. Strategic Planning
An important step in the planning process is the decision on the location of wind energy developments that will determine the level of threat to surrounding birds and habitats. Certain locations will be more sensitive such as migration bottlenecks or other particular landscape features. Planning requires data and interpretation of data and this may require that partnerships are formed between civil society, government and developers.
2. Environmental Assessments and Monitoring
Baselines and pre-construction baseline monitoring plans are another factor in an environmental assessment process. These inform post-construction monitoring plans and what mitigation measures need to be taken, such as technical design and ‘shut-down on demand’. Monitoring information is important to verify whether mitigation solutions are working and for estimation of cumulative impacts of different developments on a single species.
3. Mitigation Measures
There are different wind energy and power line technologies that vary in size and design which presents different types of threats to birds and other biodiversity. For example, low and medium voltage power lines are associated with electrocution and collision risks whereas high voltage power lines are associated with collision risks. There are tailored mitigation measures developed to address these that are based on the mitigation hierarchy, such as installing nests on power lines or shut down on demand for wind turbines.
Where does Nixalite help?
Nixalite of America, Inc. offers product options to help reduce the negative impacts on wildlife at wind farms and on privately owned turbines. Acoustic hailing and dispersal during migrating months humanely keep birds and bats away from danger on commercial sites while our suggestions below you could implement yourself.
The loudest Acoustic Hailing Device in production, HyperSpike 40 is used for the transmission of clear, intelligible messages, commands and alert tones over extremely long distances. HyperSpike 40 packs a peak acoustic output of 160 dB for a communication range in excess of 2,000 meters (2,187 yards, 6,562 feet).
Wildlife Propane Cannon
Wildlife propane cannons are humane, effective solutions for scaring birds and wildlife from large open areas. Many options are available to cover most situations.
The Model 14-1 is designed to survive rough handling and operate effectively in the harshest outdoor climates. It is manufactured from corrosion resistant aluminized steel and aluminum, then powder coated for additional durability. Primary electronics are resin potted and all connectors treated to prevent corrosion. Although compact, portable, and technically advanced, the Model 14-1 cannon is rugged enough to survive the toughest outdoor climates and work environments. Sound pressure is 130dB @ 1m.
Product Update: Every new Model 14-1 now includes Multi-Shot, which allows you to select between 1, 2, & 3 shots every time the cannon fires!
HyperSpike® 14 Acoustic Hailing Device
A self-contained, lightweight, portable and powerful acoustic hailing device. Weighing only 37 pounds, the HyperSpike 14 packs a peak acoustic output of 151 dB for a communication range of 1,500 meters (1,641 yards, 4,921 feet).
Nixalite’s Premium Bird Barrier Spikes are an all stainless steel bird & animal control spike that deters all pest birds and climbing animals, in all infestation levels and on all types of installation surfaces. We recommend using these around the turbine area to deter birds from roosting in a dangerous area. Perfect for fences and fence posts!
Scare Away Bird Deterrent Reflector needs only sunlight and a slight breeze to deter pest birds from localized areas. Perfect for privately owned turbines. Changing light and wind conditions change the deterrent effect. The sealed bearing allows smooth weatherproof operation. Use mounting holes in HD aluminum base or purchase the optional suction cups for no-drill surfaces.
Repeller Ribbon provides spot control for nuisance birds by producing an optical and audible discomfort zone that they find disturbing to be around. The light reflected from its 2″ wide holographic surface is menacing to most pest birds. This could be used on or around turbines, fences, or nearby trees.
Nixalite has been manufacturing top-of-the-line bird control products in the USA since 1950. If you have any questions regarding the products featured in this post, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.