Saving birds from power lines, wind turbines?

May 8, 2009

By my count there are at least two dozen dead white storks in this photo taken in Saudi Arabia after they flew into the power lines — part of a wider problem in which millions of birds die every year by flying into obstacles put up by people.

This weekend, May 9-10, thousands of people around the world are marking a U.N.-backed “Migratory Bird Day”  (yes, it’s a long day) with a theme about “Barriers to Migration” — such as buildings, wind turbines, power lines and fences.

It’s easy to see how birds might fly by accident into thin wires like those above south of Jeddah but harder to understand why they slam into enormous buildings — some, apparently, may be flying towards what they think is the safety of a tree and end up crashing into a window in which the tree is reflected.

And the blades of wind turbines spin at up to 200 km (125 miles) per hour, making them all but invisible.

“It is estimated that bird-strike due to collisions with man-made structures is responsible for the deaths of many millions of birds worldwide every year,” a statement from the organisers says.

And the obstacles come in addition to problems for birds such as clearing of forests or woodlands for farmland and desertification linked to climate change.

Among recommendations are siting power lines, communications masts, turbines etc away from migratory routes or out of valleys or wetlands where many birds congregate.

Do you have any other good ideas?

(Picture credit above: Abdullah Alsuhainbany, via the African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement, which initiated World Migratory Bird Day)


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Perhaps WE should stop errecting such structures… but then how do we generate/move electricity. We could “close” the world and go back to the stone ages? You cannot have your cake, and eat it too. Though it seems that’s what the environment hypocrasy (NIMBY) yes, “let’s go renewable, but not here, over there, in HIS back yard not mine!”

Posted by K24 | Report as abusive

In some European countries they attach orange coloured balls to the powerlines, this makes them more visible to birds. It is also possible to reduce building collisions by incorporating patterns in or on the glass to alert birds.

Posted by Nikkei 225 | Report as abusive

I visited the Rowe Wildlife Sanctuary earlier this year to watch the migrating Sandhill Cranes. The informational program they gave included the fact that the University of Nebraska, Kearney, has an ongoing program directed toward solving this problem, as it is affecting the severely threatened Whooping Cranes. They were developing little clip-on plastic devices that had reflective tape and rotated in the wind. They had worked with the local electric utility who applied them using a helicopter. They were apparently trying to measure their effectiveness before making them more widely available. I am sure there must be other research going into this problem elsewhere.

Posted by Gordon | Report as abusive

Bats are also being killed in large numbers and the clip on plastic devices won’t help them. These wind power are also visually polluting the lanscape. So now where do we turn for our power?
Dams – no! it stops the movement of fish.
Coal – no! too much CO2 and increasing global warming
Biomass – no! increases food costs and wood fibre means cutting trees
Other carbon based fuels – No! same reasons as above.
Nuclear- no! Too dangerous

Solution – quit using electrical power. Thank goodness I live in a forested area.
Good by computer, hello smoke signals

Posted by buffalojump | Report as abusive

Minimize the grid and produce electricity at home. Solar panels, ethanol and hydrogen cell generators, passive cooling and heating of homes. At the same time embark on a massive project to build geothermal power generation stations. New Zealand did just that. They are ahead of schedule for “Kyoto” and will be over target for green hose emissions reduction.

Posted by Anubis | Report as abusive

Since the transmission lines are mostly for wind energy…stop building them. Giant land based wind farms have been used in Europe for decades. No coal or gas power plant has EVER been shut down for them. They are needed for back up electricty.

The energy is only produced when the wind blows. …which is not at peak use by consumers. If the wind blows too hard..they shut down as there is a danger of friction fires from the blades. It can’t be stored. The wind farms have to be sited away from the general population.They are a health hazard.

Wind Energy is being pushed by Larry Summers. He will become a multi billionaire from it.Through D E Shaw Group , he bought a lot of Enron assets. Got a lot of ex Enron employees with the mix. Larry Summers is part owner of D E Shaw Group.Enron shut down power plants , drove up costs and then the rolling black outs in California.Google Enron Larry Summers and D E Shaw Group.

The new company name is First Wind. They are sued every where they go. The NY Attorney General is investigating them for bribery of public officials, anti trust violations and fraud. The Conn. Attorney General is investigating Iso New England for 86 million dollars worth of power not delivered. First Wind has built two wind farms without the transmission lines to use them.This is connected. Larry Summers sees govt. as his own personal bank.

Posted by Molly | Report as abusive

Wind power is not a solution. The whole truth about wind turbines is never told by lobbyists and governments.
How could the very weak and extremely unreliable initial energy source of a wind turbine ever produce a steady power of any significance?
Please think!
And read: “Wind energy- the whole truth” at: Wind energy- the whole truth.

And for green jobs creation in relation to renewable energy read:

Study of the effects on employment of public aid to renewable energy sources.

Posted by Alexander66 | Report as abusive

Vertical axis wind turbine is better performance than horizonal one in protecting birds. However this is difficult to avoid in current technology. A new radar device is testing for saving birds but it is just a testing product.

Posted by wind turbine | Report as abusive