Media double standard on bird kills

Red Kite Killed by Turbines

Diane Katz, Financial Post

Environmental groups are gloating over the conviction last week of Syncrude Canada Ltd., which now faces fines totalling $800,000 for failing to prevent the deaths of 1,606 ducks that alighted on a company tailings pond two years ago.

Yet the fact a great many more birds and bats are mangled by wind turbine blades each year draws scant attention, much less prosecution. This double standard highlights the widespread misperception that so-called “renewable” energy sources do not demand environmental trade-offs.

That they do was made plain with the recent release of a bird and bat monitoring report from Canada’s second-largest wind farm, the Wolfe Island EcoPower® Centre. In the first eight months of operation, the centre reported 1,962 bird and bat deaths involving 33 bird species and five bat species. Such numbers earned wind power generators the moniker “Cuisinarts of the Air,” but not indictments.

These findings were largely ignored by the same media outlets that for months featured front-page headlines about dead ducks. But the wind power industry enjoys a degree of political favour that would make most other energy executives green with envy. The province of Ontario, for example, actually requires utilities to purchase wind power at inflated rates, while British Columbia mandates an annual quota of electricity from “renewable” sources.

The sprawling $475-million Wolfe Island facility in Frontenac Township off the shores of Kingston, Ont., features 86 wind turbine generators capable of producing 197.8 MW at full capacity–which never occurs because wind is intermittent. The first of two monitoring reports to date, released in February, documented 45 bird fatalities and 45 bat fatalities during May 2009 and June 2009.

The second report, covering the six months between July 2009 and December 2009, documented 602 bird fatalities and 1,270 bat fatalities. The number of raptor and vulture fatalities — 13 in the six-month period — were “among the highest” of any wind farm in the province, according to an official with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources.

Colliding with blades is hardly the only risk wind power poses to birds and bats. Researchers have also found that the construction of wind farms and associated infrastructure (e. g., buildings, roads and electrical transmission lines) renders wide swaths of habitat less suitable for birds.

Wind farms also require large plots of open land — an estimated 2.5 acres per turbine, on average. As a result, a variety of wildlife also is affected.

This is not to say that wind turbine generators should be eliminated.

Indeed, proponents such as the Canadian Wind Energy Association stress that far more birds — tens of millions annually– are felled by cats, cars, and collisions with skyscrapers. But if that is a sufficient defence, should not the wind farm lobby have flocked to defend Syncrude Canada Ltd. against prosecution for far fewer deaths than routinely occur at wind farms across the country?

There is no shortage of human ingenuity to solve the myriad challenges posed by wind power and other energy sources. But policymakers and the public should not take political rhetoric at face value and assume an inherent superiority of non-fossil-fuel energy sources.


-Diane Katz is director of risk, environment and energy policy at the Fraser Institute

31 thoughts on “Media double standard on bird kills

  1. The solution to not having windfarms is simple. Stop using excessive amounts of energy.

  2. That’s the beautiful thing about this Richard! WE HAVE BEEN USING LESS ELECTRICITY……SINCE 2002!

  3. I want both of you to do penance and read my paper Watts With The Wind. I have those statistics available near the beginning.

    However, Simcoe Surfer you do have the right idea, it’s just that the year is wrong.

    go here :

    You can see that power draw over the short term increases until 2005. We peaked in that year with 157 TWH. We have been on a downhill roll ever since with the worst hit actually occurring in the middle of 2008 and still continuing. You just can’t see it when it is accumulated by calender year.

    Bottom line: Yank the wind turbines — we don’t need them.

    That will end the bird strikes. In the meantime — prosecute in the same manner as the oil companies!

    Last year we were at about 1997 levels in terms of power draw. No, it is not conservation, it is recession — in part caused by overpriced power!

  4. The Brave Knight shows us the way once again. May your sword never rest til the land of Rural is safe and free once again.
    May the Gods be with you,

    a Damsel in distress.

  5. Grew up and lived in a very large city with lots of skyscrapers and can’t recall ever seeing a dead bird on the downtown streets. Think this is a lot of crap too.

  6. Sorry David. And Richard. I was wrong.
    Your not a very good salesman to call reading your paper penance ?!;)

  7. CANWEA should stop with all their nonsense propaganda on birds and skyscrapers. I am so tired of hearing about this crap. Barbara, I agree with you wholeheartedly. After some of own research here are some interesting facts:

    The number of wind turbines in the world as of December 2009 is estimated to be 159,000 (based on average 1.0 MW turbine size, installed capacity of 159,213 MW per World Wind Energy Conference ). The number of wind turbines is expected to increase to approximately 200,000 wind turbines by the end of 2010. The growth of wind turbines has been exponential.

    According to Emporis there are only 137,088 high rise buildings in the world as of May 2010. Emporis manages a worldwide database on construction data and commercial real estate information. Emporis makes this information universally accessible and wants to create the world’s biggest and best database about buildings.

    The average 1 MW wind turbine typically has a 90 meter base and a total height of 135 meters (442 feet). High rise buildings are any structure over 35 meters (115 feet). Less than 1% of high rise buildings in the world are over 135 meters.

    How can 159,000 spinning structures (soon to be 200,000), kill less birds that 137,088 stationary structures? Both structures have lights/strobes on at night that attract birds. These statistics show that bird deaths from wind turbines easily exceed deaths by high rise building just by the total numbers of each structure.

    I say to CANWEA and their ilk: Cut the crap, you people need to be brought to justice just as Syncrude was! To the media and environmentalists on CAEWEA’s side, I say to you: it’s FAKE energy, not green but red with murder and corruption! You should be exposing the real truth behind wind turbines. Anybody want to buy a carbon credit?

  8. Simcoe:

    That’s OK — you just got the year wrong — it is easy to forget and it is easy to forget the source…


    Think you are wrong too…

    The point is irrelevant though. That is not our problem to solve at the moment. We will deal with that after we have removed every wind turbine and stomped them into the ground!

    However, see this! Clearly the Technical Turbine Designers hired the same Style Design people to give the Turbines an aesthetically pleasing appearance… to birds who promptly get ground up…


    Daniel Klem Jr. cradles a small, dead bird with chestnut-mottled wings, another victim of what he says is a largely unrecognized environmental hazard that kills birds in flight.

    The culprit is the plate glass used in windows, skyscrapers and other structures, which the birds strike because they cannot see it.

    “Glass is ubiquitous and it’s indiscriminate, killing the fit and the unfit,” said Klem, a Muhlenberg College ornithologist who estimates that collisions with glass kill up to 1 billion birds a year in the United States alone.

    “Buildings that we have created to be aesthetically pleasing are slaughtering birds.”


    Let’s get all our facts straight — the eyes of the world are upon us!

  9. Simcoe surfer, I think David was being modest in asking you and Richard to read his paper(again) it is a very good paper. Barbara, I am from Toronto and I recall seeing many buildings with stickers on the windows that are shaped like owls in flight to scare away birds from hitting the windows when they see the reflection of the sky and think they can fly through, but hit glass. As coyote eat dead birds at the base of a turbine, perhaps stray cats eat the dead birds. No one has ever denied that tall buildings and all that glass kill many birds annually.

  10. Should add that city birds die from old age,disease,starvation,severe cold,etc.

    They also lose their eye sight and can be driven into buildings by sudden gusts of very strong winds. Tall buildings on streets form wind tunnels.

    One cannot say that all tall buildings kill birds and that city birds die by the millions from building collisions. Otherwise the streets would be littered with dead birds.

  11. Barbara:

    Good catch on the number!

    A Billion? Hmmm


    Save the birds! Kill the turbines!

  12. So WillR. Are you suggesting that we rid the world of wind turbines AND skyscrapers?
    We are really backing ourselves into a corner wouldn’ t you think?
    Barbara: I live in the city and I do see dead birds all the time. In London, we have a lot of falcons both alive and dead but cars run over the carcasses and turn them to dust before anyone can tally them.

  13. So why do you think we should have city like conditions throughout all of rural Ontario and our Crown Lands, Sam?
    Industrialization is meant to be confined to defined boundaries for preservation. Human sprawl shouldn’t trump the existence of a species.
    I live near London and have drove by a Bald Eagle on a side road. We have lots of birds of prey out here.
    The McGuinty government is ready to develop the Oak Ridges Moraine, a site they so heralded as preserving. And lets make it clear, land has to be designated “INDUSTRIAL” to place these machines on it. What’s green about that?

  14. Industrial wind turbines increase the killing zones for birds and bats. That seems to be ok for a few people. Industrial wind turbines do not result in a functional power source for our grid and for that reason the killing of birds and bats by industrial wind turbines is a total waste. People have the right to be disgusted with the wind industry and anyone who is ignorant enough to believe wind will provide much power at all. Wind companies make money through subsidies and do not care that the little power produced is junk, mostly useless and that wind relies on supporting reliable power sources at a cost to consumers. If the subsidies disappeared so would any interest in building industrial wind. Why? Because industrial wind turbines do not produced enough power.

  15. I”ve heard that wind turbines don’t produce any energy. If this is true then why doesn’t the media report on this?
    Also how do these companies make any money if no electricity leaves the wind turbine. Do they still get paid by Hydro One?
    If these things could be proven, the whole scheme could run out of steam!! I bet the National Post would report on that.
    All this time I thought that my electric scooter would benefit the environment. It will be difficult to admit I am wrong to my buddies at work.

  16. Sam, it is incorrect to say wind turbines don’t produce any energy. It’s a pretty small amount and it tends to get produced when we’re not using very much, sometimes forcing Ontario to pay others to take it.

    The more important issue is – does it save any emissions? So far the evidence is pretty clear that the answer is NO. The variability and lack of control over wind energy create additional emissions from the existing fossil plants that end up being pretty close to what should have been saved – google “Bentek wind study” or “kent hawkins wind” for details.

    Why doesn’t the media write about this? A good question. I recently read Sagan’s “The Demon-Haunted World” and it provides some good insights. Attention span of a puppy, political correctness, wishful thinking and lack of scientific knowledge are good guesses.

    Your electric scooter probably does save emissions over driving your own car, but that has little to do with wind energy.

  17. My point is that we should not just accept any numbers that scientists want to throw out to the public. Can this fellow identify the buildings and the cities where the millions of birds are being killed?

    Birds can also suffer from dimished vision and/or blindness in one eye. Wind also has to be a big factor here.

    So fix the problem and don’t use this as an excuse to kill more birds with wind turbines.

  18. Sam: Industrial wind turbines can produce power though not much and only if the turbine has access to a reliable power source (from the grid) and is operational. The intermittent and volatile changes in wind limit when and how much power can be produced. This type of power production creates inefficiencies in grid management that at times negates any power input from the wind turbine. The supporting power needed 24 hours a day to keep wind turbines operational and to stabilize the grid will at times exceed production. Industrial wind companies do not pay for power used by industrial wind turbines as it is not metered. Wind companies are unwilling to provide how much power is consumed by their turbines but try to indicate it is not that much. A few people, supposedly not with wind companies have provided estimates that do not include some major power components within a turbine so under estimate power used. Not being provided the amount used by turbines is in itself suspicious as most homes probably use less and yet we pay for the power we use. Taking everything into consideration industrial wind turbines are challenged to provide much functional power to the grid. Reporting industrial wind hourly MW production provides little information as to when the MW were produced and at what rate or various rates. Reporting MW produced does not mean the power was incorporated into the grid (although we pay for every MW produced) as grid stability is a priority.

  19. Sam:

    If you want to see what they really produce
    see here, read the report…

    They produce typically 250MW while Ontario typically draws between 11,000 and 17,000 MW at any given time.

    That ‘s about 2% of the power. However, we shut off other power stations to allow the wind turbines to provide power at 4 to 5 times the going spot power price.

    Whoop tee do!

    That is if the wind actually happens to be blowing.

    For this privilege we pay more, make people sick and kill bats and birds.

    Did I mention that they just don’t work effectively. Coal power is better, so is hydro, so is gas so is nuclear…

    Did I mention that wind just does not work?


    Before reading this I ask you, why is it we have to pay for the “JUICE” we use and the Wind Turbine Companies do not? Now think about it, subtract what they use from what they produce, then really how much “JUICE DO THEY PRODUCE”. Ask any Wind Turbine Company that question, either they do not know or they will not tell you, why? Now do the math for each project.

    Energy consumption in wind facilities

    Large wind turbines require a large amount of energy to operate. Other electricity plants generally use their own electricity, and the difference between the amount they generate and the amount delivered to the grid is readily determined. Wind plants, however, use electricity from the grid, which does not appear to be accounted for in their output figures. At the facility in Searsburg, Vermont, for example, it is apparently not even metered and is completely unknown [click here].* The manufacturers of large turbines — for example, Vestas, GE, and NEG Micon — do not include electricity consumption in the specifications they provide.

    Among the wind turbine functions that use electricity are the following:†s
    yaw mechanism (to keep the blade assembly perpendicular to the wind; also to untwist the electrical cables in the tower when necessary) — the nacelle (turbine housing) and blades together weigh 92 tons on a GE 1.5-MW turbine

    blade-pitch control (to keep the rotors spinning at a regular rate)

    lights, controllers, communication, sensors, metering, data collection, etc.

    heating the blades — this may require 10%-20% of the turbine’s nominal (rated) power

    heating and dehumidifying the nacelle — according to Danish manufacturer Vestas, “power consumption for heating and dehumidification of the nacelle must be expected during periods with increased humidity, low temperatures and low wind speeds”

    oil heater, pump, cooler, and filtering system in gearbox

    hydraulic brake (to lock the blades in very high wind)

    thyristors (to graduate the connection and disconnection between generator and grid) — 1%-2% of the energy passing through is lost

    magnetizing the stator — the induction generators used in most large grid-connected turbines require a “large” amount of continuous electricity from the grid to actively power the magnetic coils around the asynchronous “cage rotor” that encloses the generator shaft; at the rated wind speeds, it helps keep the rotor speed constant, and as the wind starts blowing it helps start the rotor turning (see next item); in the rated wind speeds, the stator may use power equal to 10% of the turbine’s rated capacity, in slower winds possibly much more

    using the generator as a motor (to help the blades start to turn when the wind speed is low or, as many suspect, to maintain the illusion that the facility is producing electricity when it is not,‡ particularly during important site tours) — it seems possible that the grid-magnetized stator must work to help keep the 40-ton blade assembly spinning, along with the gears that increase the blade rpm some 50 times for the generator, not just at cut-in (or for show in even less wind) but at least some of the way up towards the full rated wind speed; it may also be spinning the blades and rotor shaft to prevent warping when there is no wind§

    It may be that each turbine consumes more than 50% of its rated capacity in its own operation. If so, the plant as a whole — which may produce only 25% of its rated capacity annually — would be using (for free!) twice as much electricity as it produces and sells. An unlikely situation perhaps, but the industry doesn’t publicize any data that proves otherwise; incoming power is apparently not normally recorded.

    Is there some vast conspiracy spanning the worldwide industry from manufacturers and developers to utilities and operators? There doesn’t have to be, if engineers all share an assumption that wind turbines don’t use a significant amount of power compared to their output and thus it is not worth noting, much less metering. Such an assumption could be based on the experience decades ago with small DC-generating turbines, simply carried over to AC generators that continue to metastasize. However errant such an assumption might now be, it stands as long as no one questions it. No conspiracy is necessary — self-serving laziness is enough.

    Whatever the actual amount of consumption, it could seriously diminish any claim of providing a significant amount of energy. Instead, it looks like industrial wind power could turn out to be a laundering scheme: “Dirty” energy goes in, “clean” energy comes out. That would explain why developers demand legislation to create a market for “green credits” — tokens of “clean” energy like the indulgences sold by the medieval church. Ego te absolvo.

    TAKEN FROM web site

  21. Mr Alias. That was very intriguing. I never thought that the deception was that thorough!
    It should be easy (if the data was there) to shut this joke down. Do you think a wind engineer will ever go rogue and expose the wind industry? It happened with the global warming scam last year…only time will tell I guess.

  22. Enron was the pioneer in the modern industrial wind energy snake oil. It was devised as a clever way to rake in the $$$.

    It really is the perfect scam, isn’t it?

  23. Enron was the first company to set up shop in the UK, who new best how to screw people over but Enron, and look at, how many and who they screwed over. Enron managed to suck in, even the best of the best, if one has a hard time wrapping themselves around this turbine issue, then just think Enron?

    What is really scary is that, “some of them are still out there, and you only have to look state side to see this.

  24. Sam,

    sad thing is why do you and I have to pay for the “Juice” we use and the Wind Turbine companies are getting away with using the “Juice” for free. All wind-turbines should have to have a Meter attached each, so we know how much they use. I asked this one operator this question as of this date no response, I wonder why.

    Is it not discriminatory to charge one business for the JUICE they use and not CHARGE another. I think so…,

  25. Pingback: Wildwings » Blog Archive » Ever wonder?


    I think I have that data now. I will check later.

    I ran across it by accident!

  27. Here is some helpful info…

    Some Vesta V90 1.8MW info.

    Hydraulic Motor 18.6 kW
    Yaw Motors 6 x 1.75 kW 10.5 kW
    Oil Heating 3 x 0.76 kW 2.3 kW
    Air Heaters 3 x 3.4 kW 10.2 kW
    Oil Pump for Gearbox Lubrication 3.5 kW

    HV Transformer located in the
    nacelle has a no-load loss of
    Max. 3.9 kW

    Exclusive of heaters for blade in cold climates…

    Mr. Alias — just google the manuals — the truth is out there.

    It’s easy to get my email from my paper.

    I have maintenance , installation and specifications manuals for some — easy to find.

  28. The IWT electric component list is not complete in the spec manuals. The manuals list some minor power use components, though depending on how many running hours the amount could add up. Running a hair blow drier 24/7 is not something anyone who pays for electricity would do and most blow driers are less than 2 kW. Many IWT components have to run regardless if the IWT is producing power or not (no wind, maintenance, shut downs etc.). If not connected to a reliable power source IWTs cannot function. How much power an IWT uses at any one time does not appear to have been verified as no effort is made to measure usage. Something valuable not measured cannot be assumed to be “not much”, when components within the IWT can consume larger amounts of electricity (e.g. generator etc.) and there is no mechanism in place to prove they are not.

  29. At one wind meeting I attended the turbine rep from Germany said a turbine uses as much energy as the average home. I said the average home in Ont uses 1000KW and he said that’s about right

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