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  (Source: CleanTechnica)
Annual death toll expected to rise

recent study in Klickitat County, Washington shows that active wind farms in Washington and Oregon kill more than 6,500 birds and 3,000 bats annually. 

Biologist Orah Zamora works for West, Inc., an ecological field study company, monitors the Windy Flats project, one of the largest wind farms in the United States. Zamora looks for dead birds and bats that have been severed by the spinning blades of the surrounding wind turbines in order to conduct survey's to observe how wind-power development is affecting birds. 

"It's like a crime scene, and you try to figure out what happened," said Zamora. "Sometimes it's really obvious because you can see a slice mark."

These surveys are financed by the wind industry and are mainly concerned with birds like eagles, hawks, and other raptors. Klickitat County is especially a concern because the area has an abundance of prey for these larger birds, hence, they tend to stay in the area. According to the study, these birds are diving for their prey and do not pay attention to the large wind turbine blades that may be in the way.

There are differing views between scientists, biologists and wind-energy developers as to whether birds are at high risk because no one knows what cumulative death toll will have a significant impact on the species. 

Wind-power advocates say "these deaths are an acceptable trade-off for development of a renewable energy source." They also note that man-made hazards and house cats account for tens of millions of bird-related deaths per year. According to Mike Sagrillo, a consultant who writes for the American Wind Energy Association, bird mortality "at wind farms, compared to other human-related causes of bird mortality, is biologically and statistically insignificant."

The surveys taken in Klickitat County showed that wind power is only a minor hazard to birds, but scientists say it's too early to really "discount the risks posed by the rush to develop Northwest wind power."

A survey in Klickitat County at the Big Horn Wind Farm indicated that more than 30 raptors were killed "during an initial year of operations - more than seven times the number forecast in a pre-construction study." Among the dead birds were short-eared owls, kestrels, red-tailed hawks and a ferruginous hawk. 

"We take questions and concerns of wildlife impacts very seriously," said Jan Johnson, a spokeswoman for Iberdrola Renewables, which owns the Big Horn Wind Farm. 

In addition to these findings, Altamount Pass Wind Farms in California have older wind turbines from the 1980's that have killed more raptors "per megawatt of power than anywhere else in the nation." These wind farms kill more than 1,600 raptors per year.

While developers have agreed to relocate turbines away from canyon ridges where the large birds of prey spend most of their time, the death toll is still expected to rise due to the lack of information regarding what death toll is biologically significant to these birds. 

A study by West, Inc. that was paid for by the Klickitat County Planning Department showed that the turbines would kill 516 raptors each year just in the Columbia River plateau region of Oregon and Washington if the industry doubled in size. The study determined that this was not a significant number, but ecologist K. Shawn Smallwood thinks the study underestimates the number of deaths and that it's hard to conclude whether these wind turbine-related deaths would harm an entire species.

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What are the chances
By omnicronx on 6/7/2010 12:09:55 PM , Rating: 4
That giant spinning blades are killing birds and animals passing through them?

I'm going to have to see the findings of this study as I just don't believe it to be true!..

RE: What are the chances
By omnicronx on 6/7/2010 12:11:11 PM , Rating: 3
and I would just like to know..

How many birds do you think die a year as a result of a single high rise building with reflective windows? I bet the numbers are comparable..

RE: What are the chances
By Steve1981 on 6/7/2010 12:29:24 PM , Rating: 5
How many birds do you think die a year as a result of a single high rise building with reflective windows? I bet the numbers are comparable..

I'd suspect the issue isn't with generic bird deaths, but the types of birds that are more liable to be killed. Killing a few hundred golden eagles in their environment has a lot more consequences than killing a few thousand pigeons in a city.

RE: What are the chances
By omnicronx on 6/7/2010 1:53:50 PM , Rating: 3
Anyone can play devils advocate by throwing around stats like these.

Power lines alone will kill exponentially more raptors and birds of prey each year than wind turbines ever will.

For example a french study found that over 3 years along 180 miles of power lines, they found around 700 carcases in which 30% were birds of prey, including 6 eagles.

The point is these stats are a drop in the bucket compared to other man made ways that even birds of prey can die.

AND FYI I'm not even a wind proponent (i find it a massive waste of space in areas in which other power sources are feasible, i.e it should only be used when not close to a water source), I'm just anti enviro scum. The only people holding back clean energy more than the oil giants..

RE: What are the chances
By Steve1981 on 6/7/2010 2:11:17 PM , Rating: 3
The point is these stats are a drop in the bucket compared to other man made ways that even birds of prey can die.

Perhaps; however, I wasn't trying to make some big environmental statement so much as point out the fallacy of comparing bird deaths in a city due to high rise buildings versus raptor deaths in the wild.

RE: What are the chances
By omnicronx on 6/7/2010 4:20:12 PM , Rating: 1
Sorry, was not meant to be a personal attack, was more or less responding to the article not your comments ;)

I'm not one to shoot the messenger ;) You were just reiterating what they were trying to get across, I was merely attempting to play devils advocate against those statements.

RE: What are the chances
By Steve1981 on 6/7/2010 5:37:12 PM , Rating: 2
Not to worry. I'm no hardcore enviro-nut, although I do like a good discussion.

Although if we're playing devils advocate, I would opine that your argument is an example of the two wrongs make a right fallacy, ie since power lines and predators kill raptors, it's ok for wind turbines to do the same.

There is the matter of scale; however: suppose you have a million and one dollars. Say some dastardly person steals your million in the middle of the night. Later that night, in spite of the fact that I can clearly see you've been robbed, I take your last dollar. Obviously, taking that last dollar is wrong, but its arguably all the worse because I'm kicking you when you're down.

RE: What are the chances
By omnicronx on 6/7/2010 6:38:36 PM , Rating: 1
While I would tend to agree with your analogy, I'm not sure if it applies here. The possibility of a global tipping point occurring all at the same time due to wind turbines is very very small.

That being said, I'm really not advocating for either side here, I just find it funny that these people are taking the time to protest something that is pretty much insignificant compared to other man made sources when it comes to killing birds.

RE: What are the chances
By Steve1981 on 6/7/2010 7:15:23 PM , Rating: 1
Honestly I don't foresee the destruction of any species as a result of putting up some wind farms either. Ideally we could get power from fairy dust; but since that isn't going to happen, we've got a choice to make. While wind isn't an ideal power source IMO for various reasons, the death of a few hundred birds a year is downright benign in comparison to what other methods of generation can do. That said, I'm unopposed to folks monitoring the impact of wind turbines upon local fauna to ensure they aren't having undue impact.

I just find it funny that these people are taking the time to protest something that is pretty much insignificant

I find it depressing that the same people can hold up progress for so long over so little...not over this necessarily, but over next generation nuclear plants and the like.

RE: What are the chances
By tastyratz on 6/8/2010 11:11:38 PM , Rating: 2
I agree. Its a collaborative problem.
[sarcasm]If they want to complain about a few bird deaths from wind power then I guess going back to fossil fuels is the more environmentally sound answer? [/sarcasm]
I think a few birds that are not pro BP might have an opposing opinion.

RE: What are the chances
By mcnabney on 6/7/10, Rating: 0
RE: What are the chances
By Reclaimer77 on 6/7/2010 9:36:38 PM , Rating: 4
You just revealed that you know absolutely nothing about wind power. Turbines take up zero real estate since they are either offshore or scattered around fields of crops or grazing cows.

In their current super-limited implementation, sure. But the only way for wind power to provide enough energy for a significant number of people, is to take up MASSIVE amounts of land or oceanfront.

RE: What are the chances
By Jeffk464 on 6/8/2010 11:43:38 AM , Rating: 2
Doesn't have to be a waste of space. In Texas the windfarms are located on Farms. The wind turbines have a very small footprint so they really don't take away very much of the farmland.

RE: What are the chances
By Iaiken on 6/7/2010 12:33:58 PM , Rating: 3
Just one pair of buildings is responsible for over 7000 bird deaths over the course of a 10 year study here in Toronto:

There are numerous buildings along various flight paths and the last gross estate I heard was somewhere in the 90,000 birds a year range in the greater Toronto area.

It is an especially large problem here, because The Great Lakes are a barrier to most small birds. Many of them follow the coasts until they reach the Niagara peninsula and Windsor regions. Because the coast is built up from Scarborough, Toronto and Mississauga all the way around to Hamilton, you're looking at a 100km long gauntlet of often reflective skyscrapers and tall buildings.

RE: What are the chances
By FaceMaster on 6/7/2010 1:10:05 PM , Rating: 2
Just one pair of buildings is responsible for over 7000 bird deaths over the course of a 10 year study here in Toronto:

Natural selection in action.

RE: What are the chances
By MrBlastman on 6/7/2010 12:53:29 PM , Rating: 5
I think this is great.

Just the other day I noticed one of the screens on our screened-in porch was dented in at the top and now I have to fix it. It is obvious a bird caused it, and I'm sure they cause this all across America in many homes.

These Wind Farms are not a problem at all, the environmentalists just aren't looking at it properly. With all the talk of unemployment in America, lack of proper healthcare and lackluster jobs growth, these people need to re-assess their studies. Wind Farms are providing many benefits that clearly can be seen if you look a little further into it:

1. America eats birds program: People near these farms are STARVING! Not only do they need affordable power, they also need food! Dead birds=food... for cheap! They already have paid their power bills, now they get discounted birds in their supermarkets (or, they could drive up and participate in an "America eats birds" program.

2. Scrounging hour: This will also help the wind farms cut costs by allowing the people to come onto the lots on "scrounging hour" to pick the best of the bunch to fill their bellies.

3. Cash-For-Feathers program: Look, shelter capacity is at an all time demand lately and we just can't afford to open any more of them. These birds have a lucrative byproduct other than their organ meat. They have feathers! If you allow Americans to trade-in their feathers (after they eat the rest of the bird) in the "Cash-For-Feathers" program, our Government can then use these feathers to fill pillows and mattresses in shelters across the country.

I feel horrible for all those that are impoverished these days and this is the least our government can do to capitalize on this untapped resource.

4. Stylin' for America: In this program, citizens can turn in the beaks of the birds they eat in to our Government so it can subsidize Shampoo and Skin-Care products for everyone! Keratin is vital for revitalizing our beauty. Now there will be no excuse at all for Americans not looking their best.

And most importantly,

5. Hot Dogs n' Ballparks for kids: When our economy is down, more Americans should be watching Baseball, our national pasttime (who knew?!). With the advent of inflated ticket prices due to athletes being paid absurd amounts of money (they work really hard!), it has become grossly harder for the average family to afford the essentials of a good game: peanuts and hot dogs.

Well, we can fix that, America! With the Hot Dogs n' Ballparks program, all Americans who consume birds from these Windfarms can use a Government™ Nitrate Rectal Extration Kit™ to pull valuable nitrates straight from the dead birds and send it in to dramatically reduce Hot Dog processing costs! This will lower expenses at ballparks around our great country and help fill the stands, letting us forget about the hard times that are upon us. People from afar can come 'sportin their new do's and bring their Government™ stuffed cushions to sit on.

So, what did we learn here, kids? Think! That's right environmentalists, this is an opportunity! Help America be strong, help their problems... fly away.

RE: What are the chances
By FrankJBones on 6/9/2010 9:41:52 AM , Rating: 2
You tried WAY too hard and made it pathetic instead of funny.

I would only recommend watching baseball to those in the population who need non-invasive lobotomies. Looks like you already got yours. One down, a few million neocons and born-again christians to go.

RE: What are the chances
By Clenathan on 6/7/2010 3:02:01 PM , Rating: 2
So because wind farm-related deaths may be lower than high rise building deaths it's ok? Let's keep doing harmful things as long as they aren't as bad as the existing ones. Just another reason for nuclear.

RE: What are the chances
By kd9280 on 6/8/2010 7:44:02 AM , Rating: 2
It's not that they're lower. It's that they're insignificant.

Using the low end of the bird deaths from hi-rises (according to the American Bird Conservancy) we have just about 100 million deaths annually. The low end of bird deaths from Wind Farms is 10,000 deaths annually. That's 1 death from a wind farm for every 1000 deaths from hi-rises.

Using the high end, it's even more ridiculous, almost 25000 deaths from hi-rises to every 1 death from a wind farm.

All it is is scare tactics and attempting to influence from fear.

RE: What are the chances
By kd9280 on 6/8/2010 7:44:47 AM , Rating: 2
Whoops, math fail - 1 death from wind farms for every 10000 deaths from hi-rises.

RE: What are the chances
By muIIet on 6/8/2010 11:07:13 AM , Rating: 3
I fault Windex not the building.

RE: What are the chances
By Kurz on 6/7/2010 12:21:11 PM , Rating: 2
Is this a case of extrapolation?

RE: What are the chances
By AlexWade on 6/7/10, Rating: 0
RE: What are the chances
By Aloonatic on 6/7/2010 5:16:42 PM , Rating: 2
Apparently, bats are being killed by these things too. Not by colliding with them however, but because of the changes in air pressure around the blades. Not sure if the same problems affect birds as well.

Still, there has not one been one report of a polar bear being killed by one yet, so it's all going according to plan.

RE: What are the chances
By mgilbert on 6/8/2010 8:45:52 AM , Rating: 2
Those blades are far, far larger than they look, and the tip speed is far faster than it looks. I have no trouble whatsoever believing that birds are getting killed. Regardless how many are being killed in other ways, one is too many.

RE: What are the chances
By kd9280 on 6/8/2010 10:27:35 AM , Rating: 2
I'm sure you've seen my posts on this topic. The number of birds being killed by wind farms (regardless of whether they're raptors or not) is insignificant compared to the numbers of birds killed by hi-rises. Even assuming a conservative numbers.

If your concern is over larger birds of prey, then you might want to think about calling out power companies for power lines. The American Bird Conservancy tracked that tens of thousands of birds are killed from power lines, and the birds most easily killed from power lines are those that can straddle two wires at the same time. More birds of prey are killed by power lines than wind farms yearly.

Having birds killed by man-made structures is sad. Unfortunately, it's going to happen regardless of whether wind farms are plopped down or not.

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