Outdoors blog

Recent bird kills tip of the iceberg

Wind farms such as the one shown above at Altamont Pass in California are killing hundreds of thousands of birds each year, according to the American Bird Conservancy. Wind turbines -- depending on their size, location and speed of the blades -- have been identified as a lethal threat to birds and bats. (Photo: Mike Parr / American Bird Conservancy)
Wind farms such as the one shown above at Altamont Pass in California are killing hundreds of thousands of birds each year, according to the American Bird Conservancy. Wind turbines -- depending on their size, location and speed of the blades -- have been identified as a lethal threat to birds and bats. (Photo: Mike Parr / American Bird Conservancy)

WILDLIFE -- While recent reports of 3,000 blackbirds falling to their deaths from the sky in Arkansas generated international publicity, that number is but a tiny fraction of the birds killed each year from human causes, according to American Bird Conservancy.

  • Estimates from various studies show that up to one billion birds may be killed each year in collisions with buildings.
  • Another billion may die from predation by outdoor cats.
  • Up to 50 million may die in collisions with communication towers.
  • Perhaps 15 million die annually from pesticide poisoning.
  • Investigation is still underway regarding bird mortality caused by the burgeoning wind industry -- but it's significant.
Bird deaths from pesticides have been dramatically reduced by regulations, but even more scrutiny is needed, said ABC Vice President Mike Parr.
 
Read on for other potential bird-saving policies under consideration.
Collisions with buildings could be dramatically reduced if technology continues to advance in the development of bird-friendly or bird-safe glass for buildings, Parr said.
 
The Federal Communications Commission is reviewing standards for communication towers that could reduce their danger to birds, he said.
 
The Department of the Interior is considering new guidelines for  wind turbine siting and operations to save birds, but  ABC believes these guidelines should be made mandatory .
 
“Voluntary guidelines don’t work," Parr said.  "We wouldn’t expect people to abide by voluntary drinking and driving limits. We can’t expect the wind industry to follow voluntary environmental guidelines either.”



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Rich Landers


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