Windmills and Birds

To: "Birding-Aus (Forum)" <>
Subject: Windmills and Birds
From: "Chris Corben" <>
Date: Tue, 24 Jan 2006 18:33:08 -0600
I do know a bit about WindFarms and their impact on bats.

I can also tell you that Altamount Pass in California kills over 100 Golden
Eagles per year. Whether or not this is a significant loss depends on how
many Golden Eagles pass through there each year, and I don't know the answer
to that - so such mortality could range from terribly serious to completely
innocuous depending on other factors which, at least from my limited
perspective, do not seem to be well understood. But the mortality is
certainly there, and there has been work done on bats showing mortalities of
thousands of individuals per year at certain sites.

The setups that seem to have the highest mortalities are the masses of
closely spaced, relatively small generators with high blade speeds set in
mountain passes.  The much larger, widely spaced generators with slower
blade speeds used in Aus seem to pose much less of a threat to bird life.

From what I have heard, this sounds wrong. The tips of the large blades are
moving very fast - I have heard figures in the vicinity of 200 KPH! This is
far faster than anything nature has had to contend with until the last 100-
years! The impression I have gained from hearing people in the thick of the
subject, is that ever larger turbines are going to be the norm, and that the
kill rates are likely to increase as a consequence.

I was worried to hear of plans to site a windfarm in Orange-bellied Parrot
habitat in Victoria. It won't take much mortality of a species like that to
have a devastating effect, and OBPs often fly at heights which will bring
them into range of the turbines. Kill 1 a month and the impact will mean
something! It's a shame that many people view windfarms as a relatively
green way to generate electricity, yet the more I hear about them, the more
attractive nuclear options sound! Unfortunately, it looks like windfarms are
going to sprout up all over the USA - I am sure we will soon find ourselves
sick of the sight of them!

Cheers, Chris.

Chris Corben
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