Wind Turbines and Wildlife

February 21, 2023

Thousands and thousands of birds and bats are killed from wind turbines every year.  The blades of the tower spin very fast, which either kills the airborne creature upon impact, or disorients it into a fatal-fall. 

Wind turbines are responsible for bird deaths around the world.  In the United States alone it is estimated the deaths from wind turbines is from 100,00 to 450,000 annually. 

Birds of prey are some of the most affected such as hawks, eagles, and falcons.   We have both golden and bald eagles, numerous types of hawks, and falcons in Douglas County.  These birds raise a small number of offspring per year.  So to even maintain the number of these birds we have now will be nearly impossible.  Bird numbers will go down.

Many migratory birds fly through our county also, as early as January the snow geese start coming through heading north to their nesting grounds in Canada or farther north.  Other birds continue, then in late April barn swallows return with others following.   Fall migration starts somewhere in late August through late November depending on the weather patterns.  Their flight pattern is by instinct and wind turbines will not deter the birds.  There will be more fatalities.   

Land for industrial wind turbines must be cleared for the turbines and transmission lines to be installed.  Land is cleared and trees are removed.  Chemicals are used annually to control brush. A once natural habitat is gone forever. 

The turbines blades start spinning, the high-voltage power lines are working, and the deaths begin.  

The power companies say they have two methods for reducing bird kills.

  1. A detection device can be installed to know when incoming birds are near, and the energy company can then shut down the turbine (which is not productive for energy)… So how many birds does it take to shut down the turbine?  1 or 50 or more.  Eagles and hawks are lone hunters.  This method would not protect birds of prey.
  2. Manufactures can install ultrasonic frequencies to deter birds and bats from the turbines.  Ultrasonic frequency is known to drive bats and birds away permanently, which does not keep the wildlife here.  How does this help to get rid of mosquitoes and ward off the West Nile Virus?  Bats eat millions of mosquitoes.

The loss of birds has a significant impact on the ecosystem.  We cannot disrupt one part of the ecosystem without effecting another.   The U.S. Geological Survey says the value of pest-control services to U.S. agriculture provided by bats ranges from $3.7 billion to as much as $53 billion annually.   Larger birds feed on rodents, snakes, and other small mammals that would otherwise spiral out of balance in population.        

If one is concerned about the environment in any degree whatsoever, then these types of ecological effects must be taken into account one way or another.

Wind turbines definitely have a negative affect on our wildlife.