Gore On Windpower and Birds

This seems like an easy aspect of windpower to resolve now while the “iron is hot”.

In his new book entitled, Our Choice, about global warming Gore writes a subsection he titles this section, Are Windmills a Threat To Birds?

Some sidebars to this are:

1) Some of the strongest supporters I have seen advocating alternative forms of energy are birders. I also know that at least two of the smartest skeptics I have seen opposing mitigations of global warming are birders. In both cases I see these birders as being very close to accepting the negative impacts of global warming on faunal forms like birds.

2) I have yet to see a situation where windturbines threaten birds and I have seen wind turbines on private lands near wildlife refuges and along rivers.

This issue, from Gores’s perspective, is an engineering design issue. He writes that engineers have designed “smart turbines” that shut down when they detect approaching flocks of birds.

This is good and can be easily built into the development of wind turbines…I have know idea if building these turbines is cost prohibitive. Yet I see much of the potential problem with winpower and birds as the siting of wind farms. I have  seen windfarms right in the middle of grainfields and I do not see this as a threat to birds. If farms are built in Important Bird Areas then they are potentially a problem and in my area I see that as a potential problem, especially when these farms can happen and produce lots of alternative energy and not harm birds.

I see that alternative energy advocates like Gore tend to be the easiest persons to talk to about this wildlife quandry, windpower companies are harder to talk to, but persons like Gore can talk to these folks in the windpower community.

An aside: I see real opportunities in the countryside to have windpower on private lands that will not harm birds; even potentially so. These same  opportunities are worth income to the private landowner and they produce a advocate for alternative forms of energy. Two things come to my mind as we site wind farms.

1) Is that birds are killed by a variety of things and I see a lot of birding conservation energy going to the mitigation, or elimination, of these mortality sinks. Some of the mortality sinks for wild birds include things like energy lines, buildings and cats, both feral and pets.

2) Cummulative Effects. Birds are killed by energy lines, cats, buildings, automobiles and pesticides. There is no reason for windfarms to be one of the mortality forms for birds. As global warming becomes a harsh and negative impact in the ecology of birdlife and many birds are rarer, things like Cummulative Effects become more important.

I remember driving by a windfarm and antelope used this farm for shade and it was sited in an area where little, or know birdlife would be impacted. I would think of things like this 19 years ago.

One neat place to find cold weather songbirds was in very windy areas with drift fences where the flocks of birds could use the fences to get out of the way of harsh winds. These would be great sites to locate wind farms and birdlife would use wind turbines to avoid harsh winds and the flocks of birds would fly under the wind turbine blades (I have seen these flocks of birds fly a foot or two above the ground) to stay ahead of their percieved predator. These areas might be attractents, because of prey, for wintering Snowy Owls or species like the Rough-legged Hawks but I tend to see these predators closer to tree cover. It seems that a good birder or bird-oriented wildlife biologist can consult in the wind farm siting and negate, or minimize, negative impacts to birdlife.



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