Wind farms not for the birds

Think duck deaths on oilsands tailings ponds are bad? The real slaughter happens elsewhere

By EZRA LEVANT, Toronto Sun

Sonya Thomas is five feet tall and weighs just 105 pounds. But last fall she won the world chicken wing eating competition in Buffalo, N.Y., devouring 181 wings in 12 minutes. She claimed she was still hungry, and an hour later ate 20 more.

She edged out Joey Chestnut, her 6-foot-2, 218-pound rival. He ate 169 wings. But in 2008 in Philadelphia, Chestnut packed away 241 wings, though he took half an hour to do it.

Together Thomas and Chestnut can polish off more than 400 wings in a sitting. That’s more than 200 birds.

Around the same time as the Buffalo wing festival, another 200 birds died. But they weren’t eaten in New York. They were caught in a freak ice storm in northern Alberta, and landed on Syncrude’s oilsands tailing ponds. Government wildlife officers ordered them euthanized.

Linda Duncan, the NDP MP for Edmonton-Strathcona, called the bird deaths “reprehensible” and said “no amount of penalty” was enough. She demanded the tailings ponds be shut down — which would mean shutting down the whole oilsands mine at Mildred Lake. If Duncan got her way, more than 3,000 people would lose their jobs.

Duncan’s proposal would fire 15 workers for every dead duck. That’s nutty, but not much nuttier than the $2,000-a-duck fine Syncrude had to pay for a duck accident in 2008.

But as a new video produced this month by the Frontier Centre for Public Policy points out, the duck obsession of Linda Duncan and other oilsands haters is misplaced.

The Frontier Centre compared the number of birds killed by the oilsands with the number of birds killed by a wind turbine at an Ontario wind farm — allegedly a more environmentally friendly source of energy.

When the rate of bird kills was measured, kilowatt hour by kilowatt hour, windmills were 445 times deadlier than the oilsands.

You can watch the center’s video at

birdblender, but it’s not for the squeamish.

Where is Linda Duncan’s outrage for those dead birds?

Wind power proponents know their industry is a disaster when it comes to birds. Part of the Canadian Wind Energy Association’s strategy is to publish a “fact sheet” that admits windmills kill birds but shifts the blame to cats — as well as buildings and windows — for even more bird deaths.

How would that go over in court if Canada’s windmill operators were ever charged with a criminal offence, like Syncrude was?

“Your honour, it’s true that our windmills kill birds. But so do cats. And you wouldn’t prosecute a cute little kitten, would you?”

An elementary school in Bristol, in the U.K., learned about windmills the hard way. The local government spent more than $30,000 to build a 10-metre-high windmill at the school. The manufacturer said it would only kill one bird a year. But after 14 birds were killed in a six-month period, the school shut it down for fear of traumatizing the children. Headmaster Stuart McLeod said he started coming in to work early just to scoop up the carcasses before the kids arrived.

Jimmy Carter’s signature windfarm in Altamont, Calif., admits to killing about 5,000 birds a year, including protected species such as golden eagles. So that’s 5,000 birds a year for 30 years now. If they were fined $2,000 a bird like Syncrude was, that would be $300 million in fines.

Birds aren’t the only things killed by windmills. Researchers at the University of Calgary found bats are even more likely to be killed — the change in air pressure causes their lungs to explode. Oh well. Nobody likes bats anyways. They’re the environmentalists’ sacrifice species.

A cat has an excuse for killing a bird — that’s what cats eat. Sonya Thomas and Joey Chestnut have an excuse — that’s what they eat, too.

But what’s the excuse of windmill salesmen whose sole pitch is their environmental benefit?

Is it OK to butcher countless birds — and create noise pollution, and make beautiful countrysides ugly — if you mean well?

10 thoughts on “Wind farms not for the birds

  1. “Oh well nobody likes bats anyway” Excuse me!, When the insects multiply unheeded by bats we will have to use pesticides! Stronger and stronger pesticides on our food supply. This was actually a big concern of David Suzuki. The alarm in Alberta led to a study actually done by the wind company that hired a study. It is how we learned of the bats having their lungs explode from the pressure drop behind the blades. Very serious and very alarming. It is not reported widely enough possibly because most people are squeamish and not very informed about the important contribution that bats provide to our crop health. This could possibly be one of the most serious consequences of wind energy.

  2. Melodie, methinks Mr. Levant employs a level of sarcasm.

    If there is anything Ezra understands it is hypocrisy. If he is half as successful taking on the environmental as he was with human rights industry, we and all bats will all be better off.

  3. I like how Wind Farms are illegally not prosecuted under the Migratory Birds Act. A Get-Out-Of-Jail free card for Wind Farm Owners. They quickly prosecuted JD Irving when one of their logging roads destroyed 12 Heron nests. But thousands of Migratory Bird kills by Wind Turbines get a Ho-Hum response from Federal & Provincial Authorities.

  4. This decade isn’t called the “Greed Generation” for nothing…….anything that disrupts the bottom line on the Return on Investment column on Industry’s books is declared ILLEGAL!……….”Hypocrisy is the rule of the day”

  5. “They’re the environmentalists’ sacrifice species.”

    I’m with you on the bats Melodie! Given that they are already under stress from disease every bat is to be cherished.

    The hypocrisy of having children build bat houses for our little friends only to think of them as sacrifice species is abominable!

    And what is with this sacrifices must be made attitude anyway? Why is it not the excesses of the consumer society which should be surrendered so that we leave something for the rest of creation?

  6. Relax People!

    Personally, I happen to love those big and little brown bat buggers!

    I’d raise them if I knew how! They are literally insect vacuum cleaners!

    However, I would rather have Ezra boxing in my corner then the one opposite!

    I’m with John on this one!


  7. Just an observation about the picture of the dead raptor that is posted with Mr. Levant’s essay. That single picture would likely have more effect in getting the wind turbine building business stopped than all the words we all jointly ever write. Maybe it’s time to have that picture put on some bill boards say along the 401 just around city of Toronto. I am sure there could be some more creative ways it could be used as well.

  8. It is an unfortunate truth that a great many birds being killed are raptors, as well as sea birds. Who cares if most of the Golden Eagles and Peregrines and Whooping Cranes are decimated? After all, it is well known that these birds are on the way to extinction anyway, what with all of the Eagle, Peregrine Falcon and Whooping Crane killing cats. Not to mention how many of those birds are killed by flying into windows,
    cars, airplanes, tall buildings, etc. It seems that trustworthy biologists working for the energy companies have detected a tremendous increase in feral, Eagle killing pussycats. So the trade off is certainly worth it, especially for such a powerful, reliable and consistent form of energy for which “backup power” is NEVER necessary !

Comments are closed.