Re: Turning off building lights reduces US migratory bird kills

To: <>
Subject: Re: Turning off building lights reduces US migratory bird kills
From: "Lawrie Conole" <>
Date: Tue, 14 May 2002 10:00:03 +1000
David Geering wrote:

>It worries me at times that opponents of wind powered turbines, for 
>example, in Australia often quote figures of bird strikes in 
>the USA which 
>can be hugely misleading.  I'm not putting forward any opinion 
>this issue, I'm merely saying that bird migration in the northern 
>hemisphere is a very different affair to that we see here in Australia.

The fact that the wind turbine industry is starting to gather a bit of
pace in Australia (is that a pun?) offers the opportunity to test some
of these matters in an Australian context.  The literature on bird
strikes is overwhelmingly American as David has pointed out (take a look
at for some examples), but I can think of a
few particular localised scenarios where turbines could have dire
impacts, eg. at points on the Victorian and Tasmanian coastlines where
Orange-bellied Parrots come and go.  We'd only need a serious bird
strike at one turbine one night to wipe out a big chunk of the OBP
population in one brief moment.  There are also extensive intertidal
areas in NW Tasmania where large bird strike events with waders might be
a possibility.  In Australia the White-striped Freetail-bat (Tadarida
australis) is well known as a casualty of farm windmills, so we aren't
just talking about birds running into these structures.  In the USA, bad
weather has been shown to force birds to fly lower (under the clouds),
and potentially into the zone where various structures such as wind
turbines are built; I think it could be a factor here too.   Structures
need not necessarily be lit to be bird strike hazards.  

All of these assertions are speculation on my part of course, but
serious enough to warrant some heavy duty habitat utilisation studies in
these areas.  I'm hoping that my industry might shed some light (oops,
more puns) on these matters if opportunities for pre-development studies
come up.  Wind power has many great advantages, but I don't believe all
sites are suitable for this kind of structure, and we should exercise
the cautionary principle in assessing each case.

David is quite right in saying that a blind application of USA bird
strike figures to Australia is misleading.  We need site specific
assessments in sensitive areas, unlike the USA that has large numbers of
migrants flying over all kinds of landscapes.

Cheers -- Lawrie

Lawrie Conole
Senior Zoologist
Ecology Australia Pty. Ltd.
Flora and Fauna Consultants
88B Station Street
FAIRFIELD VIC 3078 Australia
Ph: (03) 9489 4191; Mob: (0419) 588 993
Fax: (03) 9481 7679
ABN 83 006 757 142

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