Are wind turbines a danger to birds?Posted: July 29, 2010
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.