Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Do Wind Farms Kill Birds?

I had been wondering about this, and now I have my answer:

Do wind farms kill birds?

Yes... but in incredibly small numbers when compared to the entire bird population.

Politifact.com was checking out George Will's claim that wind turbines used to generate electricity are a menace to birds. They concluded:
The latest independent reports estimate the number of birds killed by wind turbines at about 100,000 per year. That's according to a 2007 report from the National Research Council called "Environmental Impacts of Wind-Energy Projects."
So, the next question I asked was: How many birds are there in America? The answer is:
Based on the detection of an average of about 3,325 birds/square mile on the 1973 Breeding Bird Survey, Aldrich et al. (1975) estimated 9.975 billion breeding landbirds for the United States exclusive of Alaska and Hawaii, and concluded that the autumn population was probably about double that figure, or around 20 billion birds.
How many birds in America are killed per year by wind farms? 100,000. What is the bird population of America? 20 billion. A bird's chances of getting killed by a wind farm? 1 in 200,000. When you compare this to the number of birds killed by crashing into buildings... or even meeting your cat... it's a tiny number. Even if wind farms were to increase a hundredfold over the next 50 years, (assuming a even distribution of wind farms, which obviously wouldn't happen... the wind farms would be larger and clustered together in certain wind-prone areas), the number would climb to 1 in 2,000... which is still a fraction of what man and domestic beast kills through other means.

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