Wind Power Could Kill Millions of Birds Per Year by 2030

American Bird Conservancy

  • Department of the Interior to issue wind and wildlife guidelines imminently
  • Congressional hearing requested by conservationists
  • Major Department of Interior meeting on renewable energy scheduled for February 9th and 10th will address issue

(Washington, D.C., February 2, 2011) American Bird Conservancy (ABC), the nation’s leading bird conservation organization, said today that the build-out of wind energy proposed by the federal government to meet a Department of Energy target of generating 20% of the nation’s electricity through wind power is expected to kill at least one million birds per year by 2030, and probably significantly more.ABC considers the one million estimate, which is based on a 2005 paper1 and widely cited by the wind industry, as likely a significant underestimate of bird mortality. For example, a more recent 2009 estimate by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) indicated that approximately 440,000 birds were already being killed per year2. At the time, 22,000 turbines were in operation representing 25GW of installed capacity, a fraction of the 300GW of production capacity needed to meet the 20% by 2030 target. Wind farms are also expected to impact almost 20,000 square miles of terrestrial habitat, and over 4,000 square miles of marine habitat by 2030, some of this critical to threatened species.

    “The real answer is that we simply don’t yet have enough data to reliably estimate cumulative impacts, but once acquired they will likely far exceed current estimates. The growing and disproportionate ‘take’ of  species of conservation concern also appears to be an issue relative to the overall number of birds killed, and that is another cause for worry,” stated Dr. Albert Manville of the FWS’s Division of Migratory Bird Management.“We are plunging head-long into wind power, but so far, very few studies have been conducted that show what scale of impact it will really have on birds,” said Mike Parr, ABC’s Vice President. “While American Bird Conservancy supports bird-smart wind power, we do not support the fast-tracking of wind projects without adequate environmental oversight or assessment that can help developers and the public be certain that significant numbers of birds will not be harmed.”In the near future, the Department of the Interior is expected to issue industry guidelines on the siting and operation of wind power to reduce bird and other wildlife impacts. Whether these guidelines will be binding or not is a cause of major concern to conservationists. “We wouldn’t allow stop signs to be voluntary, so why would preventing the killing of birds, which violates the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, be voluntary?” said ABC’s Vice President of Conservation Advocacy, Darin Schroeder.
    Another major concern about wind development is that certain sensitive species may be affected very significantly by wind build-out. These include the spectacular Golden Eagle, the declining Greater Sage-Grouse, and endangered species such as the Whooping Crane. These species can be impacted by transmission lines and the infrastructure associated with wind farms, or by the turbines themselves.In addition, today, American Bird Conservancy requested a Congressional hearing to investigate the scale and impact of bird kills caused by wind energy. “The impacts to birds from wind power have gone unrecognized and unaddressed, and are wrongly dismissed by industry as insignificant. In the light of the rapid growth in the industry to meet federal renewable energy targets, ABC is requesting a Congressional hearing into the bird impacts of wind power,” added Schroeder. “ABC supports bird-smart wind power, but without strong federal standards protecting birds, we fear a major, on-going new threat will be created. We still have time to get it right if we act now,” he stated.A major Department of the Interior meeting is scheduled for next week to address a series of issues regarding renewable energy, including the impact of wind farms on birds and other wildlife.

1 Based on mortality estimates in Erickson, Wallace P., Johnson, Gregory D and Young Jr., David P. (2005). A Summary and Comparison of Bird Mortality from Anthropogenic Causes with an Emphasis on Collisions. USDA Forest Service Gen. Tech. Rep. PSW-GTR-191, pp 1029-1042.

2 The 440,000 estimate corrects for biases regarding: inconsistencies in duration and intensity of searches; size of the search plots; failure to estimate mortality during the peak periods of migration, or during some migration periods at all; impacts from wind wake and blade tip vortices; biases from unaccounted crippling losses; and the possibility of mass mortality events where nighttime migration coincides with inclement weather, that are not typically addressed or corrected for by existing studies.

American Bird Conservancy (<>) conserves native birds and their habitats throughout the Americas by safeguarding the rarest species, conserving and restoring habitats, and reducing threats while building capacity in the bird conservation movement. ABC is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit membership organization.

11 thoughts on “Wind Power Could Kill Millions of Birds Per Year by 2030

  1. “ABC supports bird-smart wind power,…

    …conserves native birds and their habitats throughout the Americas by safeguarding the rarest species, conserving and restoring habitats, and reducing threats while building capacity in the bird conservation movement.”

    They seem well-intentioned but there is NO bird-smart wind power and how do they expect the transmission build out NOT to destroy habitat. Got to clue them in fast.

  2. Bird-smart wind power is a whole lot
    of eco-crap. Get off the fence you
    green-washed bird lovers. No turbines

  3. This morning, I watched and listened to a group of Oldsquaw ducks just offshore in Lake Ontario. They are miraculous divers, flyers and vocalisers.

    For each bird lost through human carelessness and disregard for the beauty and intelligence of these most remarkable of earthlings, we suffer immeasureably as individuals and as a species.

  4. I’m with you, madasabat.


  5. No really you all have to write to those fools! This is the dangerous drivel they have on their website:

    Wind power is the fastest developing source of energy in the United States and can be an important part of the solution to climate change. However, wind farms can harm birds through collisions with turbines and associated structures, and through loss of habitat birds need for survival. These losses are largely avoidable. The solutions are within our reach.

    I support bird-smart wind power that includes mandatory standards to minimize bird deaths and habitat impacts.

    Bird-smart wind power:

    1. Is carefully sited to avoid harm to birds

    2. Uses best technology and best management practices to minimize harm to birds

    3. Employs effective, federally reviewed and approved, site-specific, pre- and post-construction studies/assessments to assist with improved siting and operation, and to properly quantify impacts.

    4. Compensates fully for unavoidable harm to birds caused by collisions with wind turbines or associated structures, and lost or degraded habitat.

  6. Pingback: Wind Power Could Kill Millions of Birds Per Year by 2030 « Wind … | Pro Earth Forsyth

  7. This is just more proof that many who advocate that both wind turbines and birds can co-exist are not able to relate cause and effect.

  8. For more on this heart-breaking subject, see “Long Night’s Journey Into Death” which is accessible on this site.

    There is no excuse.

  9. I’m incredulous!

    What do wind farms have to do with climate change?

    Oh, I know! They will disturb the atmosphere and create weather events downstream that wouldn’t
    otherwise exist, thereby having a negative impact on the climate!

    Yeah, that’s what I thought!

    Jeezuz! How can people be so stupid?


  10. It`s incedible B.B.W..Absolutely incredible ! Stupidity,idiosy,naivity,??? Al Gores`Conveniant Untruths’
    and other such B.S. propaganda,Mikey Moore etc.,seems
    to be swallowed by many, otherwise reasonably intelligent
    people, for reasons that are way over my head. It`s totally
    illogical, insanity to me. ‘ Industrial’ Wind Turbines belong
    nowhere! It`s as simple as that. Not near humans,not near
    birds,not near wildlife of any sort,and not near fish or any aquatic species!!!! Up McGuiltys butt, is the best/only place
    I`d like to see them! How indeed, can people be so stupid?
    I`ve donated as much as possible,and can now only pray for
    Erics`success in the courts. Thanks Eric & Team!

  11. The U.S condones having their national symbol slaughtered by Industrial Wind Turbines? The National Coat of Arms wouldn’t look so good with a headless bird, or one with a clipped wing.
    For those who sell Industrial Wind Turbines, nothing is sacred.

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