Why aren’t there flashing lights or special paint on wind tower rotors to protect birds and bats?  [Ray]

This is a good question as there are hundreds of thousands of birds killed each year by wind turbines.  According to Audubon:

‘Wind turbines kill an estimated 140,000 to 328,000 birds each year in North America, making it the most threatening form of green energy. And yet, it’s also one of the most rapidly expanding energy industries: more than 49,000 individual wind turbines now exist across 39 states.’  http://www.audubon.org/news/will-wind-turbines-ever-be-safe-birds

The problem is real   especially when the turbines are killing protected species and migratory birds.  There are multiple efforts going on right now by the wind industry and it is still to early to see how effective they will be. Among them are:

  • Cameras, Radar, and GPS
  • Bright Blades
  • Bright Lights
  • Turbines That Look Like Trees
  • Smart Blades

There is still little proof that any of these methods work but data collection is still early and experimentation is still ongoing. The best solution right now is to improve siting of the wind turbines.

‘There is one easy way wind companies can avoid bird deaths: Put wind farms in places where birds are unlikely to fly in the first place. “Right now one of our big considerations is siting,” says Christy Johnson-Hughes, a biologist from the USFWS’s ecological services. Migration pathways and certain landscape features—such as wetlands and migratory stopover points—are known areas where birds gather. “Putting turbines in those exact places is probably risky,” says Brian Millsap, USFWS national raptor coordinator. “Siting is the one and only thing that we really understand at this point.” ‘

In another view we have to put North American bird deaths in perspective:

‘Wind turbines kill between 214,000 and 368,000 birds annually — a small fraction compared with the estimated 6.8 million fatalities from collisions with cell and radio towers and the 1.4 billion to 3.7 billion deaths from cats, according to the peer-reviewed study by two federal scientists and the environmental consulting firm West Inc.

“We estimate that on an annual basis, less than 0.1% … of songbird and other small passerine species populations in North America perish from collisions with turbines,” says lead author Wallace Erickson of Wyoming-based West.’