The South Shore Important Bird Area (IBA) was so designated due its importance as a migratory stopover during both spring and fall bird migrations. The IBA Program is an international conservation initiative coordinated by BirdLife International. The Canadian co-partners for the IBA Program are Bird Studies Canada and Nature Canada.
To blithely ignore the importance of this entire shoreline to migratory birds that arrive by the hundreds of thousands during nocturnal migrations in the spring, is both arrogant and irresponsible. We tend to question such high numbers since these migrations take place at night, and we do not witness it. However, documented bird kills at other manmade structures, and radar images of migrants, do not lie. Directly across Prince Edward Bay from Prince Edward Point is the Lennox Generating Plant.
Before Ontario Hydro was convinced to change their lighting from floodlight to strobe, more than 22,000 dead birds were collected during the period 1972 to 1982. Over 11,000 were killed in one night along due to a combination of improper lighting and a low cloud ceiling. Nine Least Bittern (threatened species), 172 Nashville Warbler, 2485 Magnolia Warbler, 1491 Blackburnian Warbler, 2408 Bay-breasted Warbler and 325 Canada Warbler were killed as well as numerous other species during the entire 10 year period. The majority of these birds had thus far migrated successfully from their wintering grounds in Central and South America. This shows that bird mortality is a very real phenomenon at man-made structures in migratory routes. It is not acceptable to “monitor” bird kills, document, and then simply carry on for a period of years while this mortality is “evaluated”.
What I find unsettling about this whole issue are the mindless comments by proponents of wind turbines, claiming that birds will simply avoid these structures, as though birds will sit down and hold a meeting and decide after thousands of years of instinct-borne migratory routes in specific directions, that they will now alter their course, and not stop here to refuel! It doesn’t happen that way in the real world. Also disturbing, have been the comments that we will just have to take our binoculars elsewhere, that the needs of humans have priority over the needs of wildlife. It is not about the birding fraternity and its desire to have birds to watch – it’s about biodiversity and its importance to all of us. It’s about the blatant destruction of not just wildlife, but wildlife habitat, in favour of large scale development. While some would have us believe that the human race can survive quite nicely without wildlife, the truth is, that without biodiversity, the human race is doomed. The human race depends on biodiversity, and the interaction of plants and animals and their habitat, for its own survival.
The proposed wind turbines will also take a massive toll on autumn migratory raptors in one of the most significant hawk routes in Ontario, as hawks follow this shoreline along, taking advantage of thermals to propel them along. The site is also well known for its concentration of Monarch Butterflies in the fall. Prince Edward Point consistently enjoys a strong migration of the diminutive Northern Saw-whet Owl, one recent autumn, the highest total of migrating saw-whets banded in all of North America. Because of its unique location in eastern Lake Ontario, the entire Long Point Peninsula rivals Lake Erie’s Point Pelee, in terms of species abundance, diversity and densities. Already declining insect-eating bats will be decimated by the hundreds due to their intolerance for air pressure changes in close proximity to wind turbines.
We need to take a serious look at what we are doing to the earth, to Prince Edward County, to the South Shore Important Bird Area, in particular, to ourselves, by this wanton destruction of the very attributes which make it special. Developers can talk about “mitigation”, “habitat restoration” and “careful planning” all they want. In reality, they don’t have a clue about biodiversity and how it works, and our dependency on it, as a human race. This has been proven countless times during direct questioning of their hand-picked “biologists” .
Needless to say, there is virtually nothing clean or green about wind turbines. At the end of the day, the only thing green about wind turbines is the money.
– Terry Sprague, Professional Interpretive Naturalist