Sunday, May 06, 2007


Well, my comment attempting to correct what I felt were factual errors at, which calls itself a "breaking news" site, lasted for a day before being removed. Not only was the comment removed, but there is no longer a comment option on the Web page, which I find disappointing, given the fairly wild inaccuracies in the story. For the record, here is the full comment, posted in response to the Huliq article "Wind Farms Must Think of Birds and Bats." (The text of excerpts from the original article is in italics.)


I'm sorry to say that there are a number of serious errors in this post.

According to statistics wind turbines kill less birds than aoutos and building, but it can threaten whole flocks of birds especially in migration corridors. It is very important to be extremely careful while locating and regulating turbines.

This is not true. There is no indication that wind turbines have any effect on flocks of migrating birds. It is also not clear that extreme caution is needed in siting wind plants.

"The first three rules of avoiding impacts with wind turbines are always going to be location, location, location," Mike Daulton, a spokesman with the National Audubon Society, said in a telephone interview.

"Location, location, location" is a good sound bite, and I would guess that it will be used a lot. I would just add, "But the truth is that the vast majority of locations for wind farms do not present threats to birds."

A wind farm in California Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area killed a population of golden eagles in the 1980s. The population is still recovering from that huge harm.

This is not true. Scientists have studied the wind turbines in Altamont Pass for years and have not determined whether the local population of golden eagles is being harmed. I'm not defending eagle kills, but the statement is incorrect.

Texas is the home of tanagers, that can suffer from turbines. "I don't envision these wind turbines being like a giant weed eater chopping birds to bits," said Clifford Shackelford, an ornithologist at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. But the same tanager can suffer not only from turbines, but also from bad weather. And when the weather is very bad to the birds, the lights of the turbines help them find the right way to fly.

This requires a bit of explanation. There is plenty of evidence that steady-burning bright lights on foggy nights cause birds to become disoriented and collide with communication towers. There is, however, no evidence that flashing lights on wind turbines create the same effect. (Wind turbines are required to have flashing lights for aircraft safety.)

North and South Dakota are the home of water fowl populations, which can also appear at risk because of wind power.

On the other hand, it is very rare for ducks or geese to collide with wind turbines. I'd say there is little evidence that this is actually a threat.

Wind farms have 197 and 295 feet tall towers with blades that have diameters ranging from 230 to 295 feet. Most of the farms have hundreds and sometimes even thousands of that kind of towers, which can kill entire bird populations of migrating birds.

This is not true. There is not a single case on record of a major migratory bird kill by wind turbines. Such kills have been recorded for communication towers, TV towers, and even the smokestacks of coal-burning electric power plants, but not for wind turbines. Why? Most likely because wind turbines are not as tall and do not have steady-burning lights.

Thomas O. Gray
American Wind Energy Association

1 comment:

Tom Gray said...

A reader comments:

I am sure your response was removed because it is nothing but deception...the way of the developer...from an organiztion solely owned and membered by develpers.

Now, many people get killed everday....let's just killed thousands more and that's okay, too, right?? That is exactly what you are saying. Two wrongs do not make a right. Many turbines are wrong, useless, ruin people's lives, destroy the environment in may ways...lies and deceit....I have heard too many of them. Take them and go along your way.

Thanks for the feedback. I think the key thing that folks need to understand is simply that wind turbines today account for just three out of every 100,000 human-related bird deaths. The big killers are everyday things like buildings, house cats, communication towers (especially their guy wires) and automobiles. Meanwhile, a major international scientific study in 2004 found that one million species may be wiped out by global warming by the year 2050--and wind power, unlike buildings, house cats, communication towers and automobiles, can help stop global warming.