Wind Power, Birds Just Fine Together, Study Says

Score one for the wind power industry in the long-running battle over how devastating – or not – utility-scale wind farms can be to birds.

New research from the United Kingdom seems to show bird populations were unharmed by the introduction of the giant wind turbines there. What’s more, the research was carried out in collaboration with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), Britain’s leading bird charity, so there could be little question of partisanship.


image via RSPB

The research team collected monitoring data from wind farms located on unenclosed upland habitats in the U.K. to test whether breeding densities of upland birds were reduced as a result of wind farm construction or during wind farm operation.

According to the report published in the journal Applied Ecology, there was little evidence for consistent post-construction population declines in any species. However, the research did show that during construction of wind turbines populations of curlew, snipe and red grouse were damaged.

The research from the RSPB, Scottish Natural Heritage and the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) looked at 10 bird species at 18 wind farm sites in the U.K.

It has long been a contention of opposition groups to wind firms that wild birds can easily fly in to rotating blades of turbines. But in fact, the research seems to show that it’s the building of the turbines that has the worst impact on birds.

Paul Willis has been journalist for a decade. Starting out in Northern England, from where he hails, he worked as a reporter on regional papers before graduating to the cut-throat world of London print media. On the way he spent a year as a correspondent in East Africa, writing about election fraud, drought and an Ethiopian version of American Idol. Since moving to America three years ago he has worked as a freelancer, working for and major newspapers in Britain, Australia and North America. He writes on subjects as diverse as travel, media ethics and human evolution. He lives in New York where, in spite of the car fumes and the sometimes eccentric driving habits of the yellow cabs, he rides his bike everywhere.

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