Should Bird-Lovers Feel Guilty About Wind Power?

One reason alternative energy as a home power source (and beyond) is so popular is that it’s supposed to be better for the environment. It’s nonpolluting, doesn’t involve harmful extraction and refining techniques, and it’s highly scalable. But what if it had unintended consequences? That’s long been a concern with wind energy, an energy source that some bird advocates have historically argued isn’t safe for our avian friends.

At issue are concerns about whether birds are being confused, struck, or killed by turbines. Since wind turbines are located in areas with excellent windflow where birds might be present to take advantage of thermals and weather patterns, including marshes and other areas, these concerns were considered valid by many bird advocacy groups as well as concerned alternative energy organizations.

However, new evidence is suggesting that everyone, including birds, can breathe easier. While some care does need to be taken in the placement and design of turbines, it’s possible for birds and wind turbines to cohabitate just fine. How willing are bird groups to put their money where their mouths are on this one? The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds has just applied for permission to install a turbine at its headquarters.

Once completed and online in 2014, the wind turbine will supply 2/3 of the amount of energy the charity uses in its operations. Although the turbine will not, of course, be routing wind energy to every regional office, the turbine will be feeding energy back into the grid for sale elsewhere and it represents an important symbolic gesture.

“The RSPB believes that renewable energy is an essential tool in the fight against climate change, which poses the single biggest threat to the long term survival of birds and wildlife,” the organization explains, articulating why the group is doing something that some might find counterintuitive to a bird protection agency. And the wind turbine application wasn’t taken lightly; the group did due diligence including environmental impact reports and analysis to choose the best location and make it as safe as possible.

Their turbine will help them generate power as well as send a message to their community that they’re committed to alternative energy and conserving precious resources while also protecting the environment.

It’s estimated that about one tenth of one percent of bird deaths classified as “unnatural” happen as a result of wind turbine interactions, and new technologies are bringing those numbers even lower. Better design and the replacement of older turbines can help keep birds (and bats) safe, while more careful location of wind farms to get them away from major migratory paths is another important step. Furthermore, strategic San Francisco landscaping and planting projects in other regions near wind power sources to create safe spaces for migratory birds can also help keep birds on track and protected. Now that researchers understand the issue and are working with bird groups, there’s a high probability that the technology will get even better, so birds and turbines will be able to get along just fine.

Bigger concerns for birds? Power lines, building strikes, vehicles, mowing (a problem for young birds who can’t get out of the way quickly enough), pesticides, forestry, and communications towers. These known issues are all subjects bird advocacy groups are tackling to make the world safer and more pleasant for our feathered friends.

Katie Marks writes for This article originally appeared here.

Photo: Tony Hisgett/Flickr.



Warren Webber
Warren Webber3 years ago

Live long and prosper

Larry Lorusso
Larry Lorusso3 years ago

Wind power is not green energy. Here in New England the mountaintops are being destroyed by blasting and bulldozing with anything in the way obliterated. Once places where swamps and wetlands gave birth to pristine streams are now filled with crushed rock and devoid of trees and the wildlife are impacted as well for an expensive unreliable energy source that have nothing to do with demand. If you want sustainable, you need to live it and not try to buy the way out with paper promises. Time for people to be personally responsible for their resource uses.

Carrie-Anne Brown

thanks for sharing :)

Jelena Radovanovic
Past Member 4 years ago

Well....Thanks for the article.

Uddhab Khadka
Uddhab Khadka4 years ago

Thank you.

Jim W.
Jim Wiegand4 years ago

The article states............ "It’s estimated that about one tenth of one percent of bird deaths classified as “unnatural” happen as a result of wind turbine interactions, and new technologies are bringing those numbers even lower". These estimates are from rigged studies.

As wind turbines have grown larger and larger over the years, search areas for carcasses have deliberately been left unchanged. Today’s turbines are 23-45 times larger in megawatts generated and several times larger in terms of propeller length. Many flying victims are catapulted hundreds of feet by propeller tips that move at up to 200 mph. And yet, search area sizes have remained roughly the same.

Industry search areas today are about 45-60 meters from towers when they should be 200 meters from towers. With these search areas wind industry searches are missing at least 90% of the carcasses that fall beyond the 50 meter length of the turbine blades. I have the data from the distance locations of hundreds of carcasses that proves this.

Jim W.
Jim Wiegand4 years ago

Anyone wanting more insight into the wind industry's hidden mortality and their use of bogus studies. I suggest reading the articles listed below. There are plenty of references to actual studies and professional literature. . "Bald Eagle and Golden Eagle Mortality at Wind Farms: The Sanitized–and Rest–of the Story"



"Hiding “Avian Mortality”: Where ‘Green’ is Red (Part I: Altamont Pass)

"Wind energy’s colossal lies about bird & bat mortality (Wildlife Biologist)"

"The Bird Safe Wind Turbine"



Jim W.
Jim Wiegand4 years ago

No industry kills eagles species like the wind industry.

No industry kills other threatened, endangered and protected species like the wind industry.

No industry rigs and manipulates its research like the wind industry.

No industry has voluntary regulations like the wind industry.

No industry gets a free pass from legislators, regulators, courts and the public like the wind industry.

Mike B.
Mike B.4 years ago

Wind farms are the best source of utility-scale energy for wildlife including birds: global warming and air pollution are the big threats.

Nils Anders Lunde
PlsNoMessage se4 years ago