How Many Birds Do Wind Turbines Kill Compared to Fossil Fuels?

by Daniel Bailey
(Michigan, United States)

What Is Really Killing Birds?

What Is Really Killing Birds?

Wind turbines kill orders of magnitudes fewer birds than do fossil fuel energy generation sources. Where's the outcry against those?

In reality, cars kill 2,800 birds for every 1 killed by a wind turbine.

And cars kill more pedestrians than windmills kill birds. Is it time to ban cars yet?

Leading Causes of Raptor Deaths

The leading causes of raptor deaths in the Altamont study:
  1. Shooting
  2. Poison
  3. Cars
However, climate deniers aren't interested in facts that disagree with their desired outcome.

Table With Detailed Statistics

Table 2–Summary of predicted annual avian mortality per Erickson 2005:

Specific Cause of Avian Mortality      Number of Birds Killed
Buildings550 million
Power lines130 million
Cats*100 million
Automobiles80 million
Pesticides67 million
Communications towers4.5 million
Wind turbines28.5 thousand
Airplanes25 thousand


*This figure only includes bird deaths from cats claimed as pets by owners and does not include those from feral cats.

Bird Deaths from Solar Farms are Very Low

Bird deaths from solar farms have been estimated to be relatively low, though — a U.S. Fish and Wildlife study earlier this year found only 233 bird deaths at three different solar farms in California over the course of two years.

Many Bird Deaths from Coal

As for coal, those bird death numbers came from a peer-reviewed study in the journal Renewable Energy.

That estimate had a more sweeping methodology, though, with the study’s author including everything from coal mining to production — and bird deaths from climate change that coal emissions produce.

Together, that amounted to about five birds per gigawatt-hour of energy produced by coal, almost 8 million per year.

Cats Kill Way More Birds than Wind Turbines

Cat's out of the proverbial bag.

Per Loss et al 2013, feral cats kill most of the 87,000 times as many birds (in the US alone) than do all of the wind turbines in the world do, combined.

That's 3.7 BILLION bird deaths per year, by cats alone... in the United States. Or about 10 MILLION per day, as compared to about 2 per year per wind turbine.

Seems the bird holocaust is getting out of... paw. Meow.

How to Reduce Bird Deaths from Wind Turbines

This study from the EPA of Sweden documents siting strategies successful in alleviating most wind turbine bird mortalities:

Debunking Another Anti-Wind Myth

To Debunk the Anti-Wind Myth of 14,000 Abandoned Wind Turbines in California:

Dogs Improve Estimates

And now dogs are being employed to assist in carcass searches:

Other Sources of Information

Additional good sources:

Exeter University Wind Turbine Bat Research Programme

Furthermore, the ongoing Exeter University Wind Turbine Bat Research Programme examined the Resilient Energy Great Dunkilns in order to understand the effects of wind turbines on bat populations.

Essentially, the researchers used trained dogs to check for any dead bats and no dead bats were found. This correlates with Exeter's research on similar sized wind turbines where bat mortality rates have also been found to be low to non-existent.

The Association of Australian Acoustical Consultants

Lastly, the Association of Australian Acoustical Consultants has rejected claims that the frequencies created by wind turbines can have adverse health issues, saying that the infrasound generated is often less than a person’s heart-beat.

Conclusion

In essence, there are about 2 birds and 2 bats killed per year, per wind turbine.

In sum, other sources are many orders of magnitude deadlier. Hence, let's move on to actual, substantive issues such as the melting of glaciers and global sea level rise.

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