Are wind turbines a danger to birds?

A common objection to wind turbines is that they’re dangerous for birds. Alex Tabarrok at Marginal Revolution reports that the number of birds killed by wind turbines in the US is between 20,000 and 37,000 annually.

He draws on data from this report by the Committee on Environmental Impacts of Wind Energy Projects, (US) National Research Council of the National Academies.

The report puts the bird strikes from turbines into context with annual estimates for deaths in the US from other causes (the wide ranges in the estimates indicate this is not an exact science):

Collisions with buildings: 97 – 976 million

Collisions with high tension lines: 130 – 1,000 million

Collisions with communication towers: 4 – 50 million

Collisions with cars: more than 80 million

Toxic chemicals: more than 72 million

Cats: more than a billion

BP oil spill: more than two thousand to date

Those cats are a real worry. The report emphasises that although the numbers for wind turbines are relatively low, it is important to consider the location of the turbines and the seasonal abundances of species at risk.

Here’s some more on how the myth of wind turbine bird strikes might have come about (here and here).


One Comment on “Are wind turbines a danger to birds?”

  1. […] Earlier this week I watched the Four Corners story, Against the Wind, on the alleged health impacts of wind turbines and came away wondering just what the point of the program was. Based on what I saw, my clear impression is there’s no issue here – there’s simply no hard evidence of the supposed health dangers of turbines*. The allegations remind me of the scare-mongering around the dangers of winds turbines to birds, which I’ve discussed before. […]


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