EAGLES AND WIND FARMS : MORTALITY STATISTICS
THREE MILLION WIND TURBINES WORLDWIDE WILL CAUSE THE EXTINCTION OF MANY EAGLE SPECIES
This paper is not only about eagles killed by windfarms. It also questions the attitude of the RSPB*, the Sierra Club and the Audubon Society regarding birds and wind turbines. These criticisms, sadly, apply to most bird societies and conservation NGOs in the western world.
*Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
Above: golden eagle decapitated by a rotor blade at a wind farm in the State of Aragon, Spain. Courtesy of El Sekano ---> LINK
Please report any link turned defective to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Some people ask me: why are birds "so stupid" that they collide with such highly visible structures? - Here are a few thoughts that come to mind:
- birds do not crash into wind turbines. They get whacked by the huge blades.
- Wind turbines are deceptive: the blades appear to be moving slowly, but their tips actually travel at 150-300 km/h. (1) Birds don´t realize the harmless-looking structures are actually lethal.
- Cars are highly visible too, yet we tell children to be very careful when crossing the street. How do we tell the birds to be careful with wind turbines?
- What about car accidents? Cars are driven by highly intelligent homo sapiens. Are they "so stupid" that they can´t avoid running into other cars, or even static trees and walls?
- How can we expect less intelligent creatures to evaluate the speed and trajectory of fast-moving blade-tips that travel on an orbit?
- The blades can strike from above, from below, even from behind.
It is easier to understand how collisions happen thanks to the following video of a griffon vulture being struck by a turbine blade. It is clear that the bird doesn´t realize it has entered a dangerous zone: VIDEO - Griffon vulture struck by a blade in Greece
Raptors are prone to being struck by wind turbines for a variety of reasons. For instance, it was found that they are actually attracted to these dangerous structures. The "avoidance factor" is an entirely different thing. We shall broach these interesting subjects in the DISCUSSION further below. But first let´s review the statistics.
WIND FARM MORTALITY - GOLDEN EAGLES ("GEs")
( Aquila chrysaetos )
- In 2004, based upon carcasses found, it was scientifically estimated that 2,300 golden eagles have been killed by the large wind farm at Altamont Pass, California, in its first 23 years of operation (2). Today, eight years later, the toll would be well over 3,100 if the killing had continued at the same rate. But more recent studies show it has come down from 116 to about 75 a year (Dr S. Smallwood). That´s because the California population of golden eagles is dwindling under the effects of this carnage. Yet, Altamont Pass is being repowered with new, bigger wind turbines that will prolong the killing of eagles for another 25 years. See the comments of Save the Eagles International: Golden Eagle to become extinct in US
- GEs are also being killed by wind farms in the State of Navarre, Spain (Lekuona report, Department of the Environment, Government of Navarre, 2001). (3)
- They are being killed by wind farms in the State of Aragon, Spain - see the picture shown above.
- They are being killed by wind farms in the Province of Soria, Spain. Two carcasses were found in 2006 (Spanish wildlife magazine Quercus, nº 252, page 82).
- They are being killed by wind farms in the Province of Albacete, Spain : a carcass was found at the Bonete wind farm, according to a complaint registered with SEPRONA, the environmental law enforcement agency. (4)
I live in Spain, but the news of bird collisions that reach my desk represent only a tiny fraction of Spanish wind farm casualties, or indeed the world´s. The authorities are covering-up this sort of information as best they can, and most of the ornithologists who know something must keep silent: a standard clause in their contracts explicitly prohibits them from disclosing bird mortality information. It is also their best interest, if they want to be hired again in the future. The wind industry is not only their main employer: it has also become their main source of funding for general studies involving birds: e.g. the MIGRES Foundation in Andalusia. In short: the industry knows how to win the hearts of ornithologists. And this is not only happening in Spain - see this telling picture ---> THE $100,000 CHEQUE (http://www.iberica2000.org/documents/eolica/$100,000_Peregrine_Fund.jpg)
What´s more: the trickle of information that used to feed my statistics has kept shrinking until it stopped almost completely. This was engineered in 3 stages : first, wind farm employees started to routinely remove bird carcasses without reporting them. I wrote an article about this in 2006 (5). This was confirmed 3 years later by the Spanish Ornithological Society (SEO/Birdlife) (6). Then, an ornithologist who used to publish pictures of dead birds at wind farm sites stopped doing so. Finally, I was banned from the main ornithology forums. The cover up of bird mortality at Spanish wind farms is now effective at 99%, as it is in France or in the UK (in Denmark, it is effective at 100%).
- Golden eagles are being killed by wind farms in Sweden: I was advised of a carcass found at the Nasudden windfarm. Later I received an email from Måns Hjernquist, Chairman of The Ornithological Society of Gotland, advising me of the casual finding of a dozen dead eagles (GEs and WTEs) killed by wind farms on the island of Gotland (7). Actual mortality is "most likely much higher", says Dr. Hjernquist.
He later wrote to me as follows: "We have also received reports of areas under wind turbines being "cleaned" from dead birds and bats, again if true (which one might suspect it is) making the statistics very conservative."
Thus, the burying of hard evidence is not only happening in Spain. It is likely to be a world-wide policy, and would explain why fewer and fewer carcasses are being found at wind farm sites - for example at Braes of Doune, Scotland, where a monitoring study is under way.
- GEs are being killed by wind farms in the State of New Mexico, USA --->
NEW MEXICO (http://www.iberica2000.org/documents/EOLICA/BIRD_MORTALITY/2_eagles_killed_New_Mexico.doc)
- Golden eagles are being killed by wind farms in the State of Washington --->
- GEs are being killed by wind farms in Scotland : various specimens happen to have disappeared where windfarms were built. Scottish officials and their ornithologists deny this, but the evidence is there, some of it in a letter from the Scottish administration itself (sic!). I have provided the evidence here ---> LINK (http://www.iberica2000.org/Es/Articulo.asp?Id=3744)
Opacity about wind farm mortality is just as thick in the UK as it is in France and Denmark. It permits the Scottish government to forge ahead with its plan to erect wind farms anywhere at all, including Important Bird Areas, Special Protection Areas, and eagle breeding territories. This violates EU environmental legislation, but the European Commission is turning a blind eye - "green" politics oblige.
As a result, golden eagles will go extinct in the UK . Save the Eagles International have denounced the scandal here ---> Scottish government, European Commission guilty of ecological vandalism.
RSPB executives are, after politicians, the most profitable allies of the wind industry: their approval is the moral caution that permits the wind farm onslaught against our wild lands. They went as far as renting their name to a utility company (Scottish & Southern Energy) which selled a "green" product: "RSPB energy", whose name implied that wind farms are harmless to birds. Yet wind farms are already killing several million birds (and bats) across the world each year ---> Chilling Statistics
The public is thus convinced that wind turbines are harmless to birds, supported as they are by the RSPB and most bird societies. In so doing, their managements are actually co-sponsoring the destruction of biodiversity. See our comments on the RSPB here ---> RSPB executives are causing severe harm to bird life
and here ---> RSPB HYPOCRISY (http://www.iberica2000.org/documents/EOLICA/BIRD_MORTALITY/RSPB_HYPOCRISY.doc)
They replied to the letter from Save the Eagles International, and both letters were published in The Scotsman. We sent a second letter to expose the duplicity of their counter-arguments, but unsurprisingly it was not published. Here it is ---> MORE ON RSPB HYPOCRISY (http://www.iberica2000.org/documents/EOLICA/BIRD_MORTALITY/More_on_RSPB_hypocrisy.doc)
This letter had to be short, so we could not reply to the following claim from Mr. Housden : "There have been very few bird deaths at Scottish windfarms". So we´ll reply to this allegation here and now : there may appear to have been very few bird deaths, but isn´t that because wind farms in Scotland, contrary to other countries, have NOT been monitored for bird mortality ? If one doesn´t look, one doesn´t find, isn´t that so ? Even casual findings have been scarce, but that could be explained by wind farm employees removing bird carcasses as they do in Spain, and apparently in Sweden and other countries too. Remoteness, hard-to-walk-on peat bogs, and access barriers also play their part in keeping the public out of many wind farms.
Still, in spite of the cover up, we were able to find out about a few eagles that mysteriously "disappeared" at Scottish windfarms ---> Covering up the death of eagles at Scottish windfarms
We also found that there was evidence of high grouse mortality at Scottish wind farms, so much so that populations are diminishing. In a letter obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, and written by none other than a senior RSPB officer, Dr. Alison MacLennan, on the subject of the Edinbane wind farm we read on page 4 under "Wader and red grouse interest" : "they (red grouse) have been known to collide with turbine structures and have shown population declines associated with windfarm developments elsewhere" (10)
This, compared with the above quote from another Senior RSPB officer, Mr. Housden - "There have been very few bird deaths at Scottish windfarms" - is proof enough of duplicity on the part of the RSPB. Besides, how can one even dare pretend this when wind farms are not being monitored ? (except for red kites at Braes of Doune, but see our remarks below on that particular case). Mr. Housden does not say : very few bird carcasses have been found at Scottish wind farms, which would leave an element of doubt. He asserts in a definitive manner : "There have been very few bird deaths etc. ". So either he doesn´t know about the letter from Dr. Alison MacLennan saying the opposite, or he is lying to the public. Whatever the case, his statement is helping wind farm developers kill even more birds in Scotland, and elsewhere in the whole of Europe and as far as Australia, for if the RSPB says "carefully sited" (aren´t they all?) wind farms kill very few birds, why worry ?
Housden finished his statement with these weasel words : "... and this is precisely because the RSPB has fought so hard to stop the most damaging proposals". For those of us who know better, this allegation doesn´t wash: the bird charity has not fought nearly hard enough to stop devastating proposals such as Edinbane, Ben Aketil, Eishken etc. which are now built or being built ---> Scottish government, European Commission guilty of ecological vandalism.
Their fight against Lewis was the only one where they "fought hard", and we explained why: they were forced to do itby mounting criticism against their scandalous policy of helping bird-killing wind farms instead of fighting for bird conservation. They had to save their reputation.
The same duplicity is being evidenced presently regarding a large project on Shetland island, which is a strategic staging post for birds migrating to and from Norway and the Arctic as well as an important breeding area for protected bird species. The project goes against the RSPB declaration that "wind farms must be located away from narrow migration routes and important feeding, breeding and roosting areas." Irresponsibly, the RSPB argues that by keeping the turbines away from certain areas problems will be averted. But if one looks at the RSPB bird sensitivity map of Scotland (14), the whole island is classified "high-sensitive". A few isolated tiny points are "medium sensitive" but it is obvious that this won´t work. The poor visibility conditions often prevailing on the island will make collisions unavoidable, and the wind turbines are not even located in accordance with those points. Yet the RSPB only registered the usual conditional, bogus, face-saving objection: "Shetland´s RSPB officer Pete Ellis said yesterday (Friday): "We would not object on principle, although we may have to put in a conditional objection to keep everything legal" (15). As a result, planning consent will be granted, and countless migrating birds will be killed thanks to the RSPB´s conditional-only objection.
We also know that 3 red kites were casually found by the public at UK wind farms : two in Wales, one in Scotland. This prompted the monitoring of the Braes of Doune wind farm, north-east of Glasgow. We have commented on this suspect monitoring, and on the improper use being made of it by the RSPB ---> The Red Kite : decimated by wind farms in the EU
Wind farms have already killed millions of birds in other countries (14) but officially almost none in France and the UK, and none at all in Denmark. Logically, this means one of two things: a way has been found to make birds avoid wind turbines in the UK, France and Denmark, but they won´t tell other countries, or bird mortality is being covered up more efficiently in the UK, France and Denmark.
WIND FARM MORTALITY - WHITE-TAILED EAGLES ("WTEs", or "SEA EAGLES")
( Haliaeetus albicilla )
- WTEs are being killed by wind farms in Germany : from the Spring of 2002 to January 2011, the carcasses of 57 sea eagles have been reported to the Brandenburg State Bird Conservation Centre. Actual mortality is thought to be higher because some carcasses may have disappeared due to windfarm employees hiding the evidence, to scavengers, or to collectors and traffickers**. And only a fraction of wind farms are being searched, fewer still in a systematic manner.
BRANDENBURG STATISTICS (http://www.iberica2000.org/documents/eolica/bird_mortality/Mortality_statistics_Germany.xls)
A record of reported carcasses from other species may also be found in this document : for example 146 red kites, 15 black kites, 2 ospreys, 5 harriers, 165 buzzards, 4 peregrine falcons, 18 geese, 13 swans, 22 storks, 33 ducks, 42 kestrels, etc.
This represents the "camel´s nose" (Japanese equivalent of tip of the iceberg) of mortality at wind farms in Germany, which amounts to over a million birds yearly (13).
** Traffickers in eagle parts : talons, skulls and feathers are being sold on the black market.
- WTEs are being killed in Sweden: 3 collisions have been reported to me. The pictures of one of them are available here :
- DEAD SEA EAGLE (http://www.iberica2000.org/documents/EOLICA/PHOTOS/BIRDS_KILLED_BY_WINDFARMS/Adult_white-tailed_eagle_killed_windturbine_Sweden.jpg)
- WHERE IT WAS FOUND (http://www.iberica2000.org/documents/EOLICA/PHOTOS/BIRDS_KILLED_BY_WINDFARMS/Turbine_that_killed_eagle_Sweden.jpg)
- THE UNLIKELY KILLER A 3-TURBINE WINDFARM (http://www.iberica2000.org/documents/EOLICA/PHOTOS/BIRDS_KILLED_BY_WINDFARMS/View_of_the_eagle-killers_Sweden.jpg)
It is worth noting that it doesn´t take a large wind farm acting as a barrier (or a maze) to kill an eagle. The collision may have happened in poor weather or visibility conditions, but it could also be that the bird was attracted to the turbines ( see the reasons for this attraction in DISCUSSION below ).
Other WTE collisions in Sweden : from Dr. Hjernquist we know that a dozen eagle carcasses were casually found under wind turbines on the island of Gotland - some of them WTEs (7).
Who knows how many other eagles were killed by Swedish wind farms, and how many will be in the future? As is the case with most other bird charities around the world, the Swedish Ornithological Society seems to take little interest in this matter. We are the sad witnesses of a conflict of interest that has turned many bird societies into silent partners of crimes against biodiversity. For there is a fine line between an accident and a wildlife crime: it is one thing to kill protected birds accidentally while driving a car; it is another to erect giant bird-chopping machines in their remaining habitats, some of them legally protected ( e.g. Pentland Road wind farm within the Lewis Peatlands Special Protection Area; Eishken wind farm within Important Bird Area UK 224 ) - all the more when there are alternative locations elsewhere.
- WTEs are being killed by wind turbines in Japan. First, an article from the Sierra Club alerted to the death of 3 of them --->JAPAN (http://www.iberica2000.org/documents/EOLICA/BIRD_MORTALITY/Japan_3_eagles_killed_in_2004.txt)
Note : the Sierra Club is not reporting bird kills of that nature any more. Has their support of wind farms become more important to them than defending biodiversity? They even endorsed the partial dismemberment of California´s wildlife stronghold, the Tejon Ranch, for the benefit of residential complexes and a trucking hub with warehouses and other facilities. A financial deal was negotiated by the Sierra Club, California Audubon, the NRDC, EHL and the PCL. Obviously, the RSPB is not the only NGOs having inverted their priorities...
This invites a question : who empowered some NGO´s to, in essence, sell the world´s wildlife habitats for money ? Technically, they only sell their approval of developments (or lack of meaningful opposition to them) ; but the effect is the same : money comes their way, and biodiversity pays the price.
On January 4, 2007, an article in the Japanese press puts the total of WTEs killed at 6, plus one osprey :
6 eagles killed (http://www.iberica2000.org/documents/EOLICA/BIRD_MORTALITY/Japan_6_eagles_one_osprey.doc)
Then an article written by scientists mentioned 7 WTE wind farm victims on Hokkaido between February 2004 and January 2007 (8).
In September 2008, I was advised by a Japanese biologist that, over several years, he had autopsied 13 WTEs killed by wind turbines. By law, carcasses of protected birds must be sent to his laboratory. He sent me pictures ---> PICTURES OF THE KILLS (http://www.iberica2000.org/documents/eolica/PHOTOS/BIRDS_KILLED_BY_WINDFARMS/Japan_sea_eagles_killed.JPG)
- WTEs are being killed by wind turbines in the Netherlands :
WTE MORTALITY NETHERLANDS (http://www.iberica2000.org/documents/EOLICA/BIRD_MORTALITY/Sea_eagle_killed_Netherlands.doc)
- WTEs are being killed by wind turbines in Norway:
In June 2006, the RSPB sent a press release announcing that 9 WTE carcasses had been found at the Smola wind farm --->RSPB (http://www.iberica2000.org/documents/EOLICA/BIRD_MORTALITY/eagles_killed_in_Norway.rtf)
QUESTION : Why did the RSPB report these kills ?
- The RSPB are a cornerstone of the UK´s aggressive wind farm policy, and as such they don´t normally report bird collisions with wind turbines on their web page or to the media. For example they never reported most of the bird collisions we have published in "Chilling Statistics", even though these come from official monitoring studies duly referenced. Nor did they publish available eagle collision statistics from Germany or Tasmania, let alone private reports from Sweden or Australia, and articles from Japan or the US, which we published on Iberica2000.org. They did report the first news of bird collisions which came out in the nineties : at Altamont Pass (California) and Tarifa (Spain). After that they basically stopped reporting this sort of news : these could have a negative effect on their reputation in view of the RSPB´s activism in favour of wind farms.
But special circumstances were at play regarding the eagle kills in Norway: we had denounced a first eagle collision on the Wind Turbines Birds forum (9). Then, a birder from Norway told the discussion group that there had been more than one. As the RSPB had been officially advised that the actual number of deaths was nine, it would have been risky for their reputation to withhold the information : hence their press release.
But three years have passed, and we haven´t heard anything more from the RSPB about eagles killed by wind turbines in Norway. Yet they are participating in the monitoring and mitigation of the Smola wind farm, and eagles keep being killed there regularly. So why the silence ? We can only conclude that they would have reported a success (no more deaths), but prefer not to report a failure. This is unethical on their part, and harmful to the conservation of the Scottish eagles . If it´s not possible to make eagles avoid wind turbines at Smola, then it is the duty of the RSPB to firmly and vehemently oppose windfarm projects where eagles fly in Scotland. But we know they don´t do that either ---> RSPB HYPOCRISY (http://www.iberica2000.org/documents/EOLICA/RSPB HYPOCRISY.doc)
At Save the Eagles International, our purpose is to protect wildlife, not the developers ; so we have no reason to suppress mortality statistics. Here are the latest regarding Smola : "The 2009 report from the teem (sic) of ornithologists monitoring eagle mortality at Smola reports as follows : It is clear that the considerable amount of bird collisions, especially White-tailed Eagle
as duly monitored only since 2006 proves that this risk was initially underestimated (26 casualties in 3 years)."
"Arguing that only the local population is affected is in contradiction to the results of movement analysis of individually marked birds. Especially immature White-tailed Eagle can explore larger sections of the Nordic coast, where also a series of power plants is build or under study. Data were presented by NINA that the reproduction rate with the actual artificial mortality could cause a decrease at population level."
"In view of future wind farm development along the Norwegian coasts I hope that the conflicting experience of Smøla will lead to an integrated approach based on scientific evidence, international conservation responsibilities and full respect for the precautionary principles." (10)
Thus, in 3 years of monitoring they have found the carcasses of 26 WTEs killed by the 68 turbines on Smola island. More were killed at the wind farm on nearby Hitra island (11). A number of eagles were also electrocuted by power-line pylons : six were found at Smola in 2009 alone (11). This is useful information when it comes to assessing the collision risk for WTEs in Scotland, where 250 wind farms and their power lines are being planned, some of them in areas where WTEs are seen flying regularly. So why are the RSPB management withholding these findings from the public ? If they don´t really care about what happens to the Scottish eagles, are they short-sighted enough to think that this won´t hurt the credibility of the bird society in the long run ?
Above: one of the white-tailed sea eagles killed by the Smola wind farm in Norway.
From the pictures of the NINA 2009 report (11), we can see the research center established on Smola and the state-of-the-art monitoring equipment available to the ornithologists ( the avian radar unit ). The monitoring was set to last 4 years, but it could be extended further. Edinbane and Ben Aketil, in Scotland, will also provide jobs to ornithologists. And so will Eishken and other wind farms where eagles will be killed. The negotiation of monitoring contracts, "land management", "adaptive management", and other useless but juicy mitigation schemes, is the reason why so many objections put up by bird societies are conditional rather than firm and definitive. This happens in America as well, to wit the withdrawal of MA Audubon´s objection after millions of dollars were pledged by the developer of the Cape Cod offshore windfarm to mitigate the killing of thousands of migrating birds yearly - much of this money will actually pay the salaries and expenses of a selected handful of ornithologists.
We offer these examples as proof that badly-sited wind farms can be a source of jobs for the profession ( though admittedly not all of them come with lobsters for dinner, as the one pictured in the NINA report ). So why should bird societies firmly oppose badly-sited wind farms, if they are the ones that are most profitable for a few well-connected ornithologists ? Smola and Lewis were objected to robustly, it must be said, but they are the exceptions that confirm the rule ; in the vast majority of cases, in the conflict of interest affecting bird societies and the ornithology profession, money comes out winning, and biodiversity conservation becomes a joke. We leave it to NINA, the RSPB, and the Audubon society to prove us wrong by killing new and harmful projects, such as Stacain in Scotland, Turkey Hill in the US, or those on the string of Norwegian-coast islands where they would kill countless migrating birds and sea eagles.
WIND FARM MORTALITY - STELLER´S EAGLES
I am not aware of any wind turbine victim among that large eagle species from Kamchatka ( slightly bigger than the GE or even the WTE). But here are the words of a Japanese ornithologist about the construction of a wind farm at a migration hot spot on Hokkaido :
"My recent most concerning is about the project of a wind farm at the Soya peninsula where is very important migration and stop-over site not only for White-tailed and Steller´s Sea eagles but also for the other various birds. I have brought up this problem to ministry of the environment and also appealed to public, but the reaction proceeds weakly. This wind farm is under construction now."
WIND FARM MORTALITY - SHORT-TOED EAGLES (STEs)
The SEO/Birdlife report on Tarifa (1995) is the first evidence we have of eagles of this species falling victims to wind farms (12). A subsequent study in the same area ( Tarifa, near Gibraltar ) by the environmental association Agaden reported 6 STE found to have been killed by the Tarifa turbines over the years. (13)
Another association, Gurelur - www.gurelur.org - sent me a picture of an STE killed at a Navarre wind farm. See photo here: Chilling Statistics
And a picture of an STE killed by a wind farm in the State of Aragon may be seen here:
Two carcasses were actually found at the Campo de Borja wind farm :
TWO YOUNG EAGLES KILLED
Another STE carcass was found at a wind farm in the Province of Tarragona, Spain :
EUROPA PRESS. 16.07.2008
And another was found in the Province of Castellón, Spain. Having solicited information from the Valencian government, an association received the following reply : in a period of 10 months, the province’s 273 wind turbines had killed 121 griffon vultures and one short-toed eagle. So that’s one more eagle to be added to the list. Only 6 bird species were covered by the request, so we don’t know, for instance, about golden eagles.
An STE was maimed by the el Candán windfarm in the State of Galicia, Spain (11). The article reveals three things : 1) from the picture, it is easy to see that the eagle will never recover, having a severed wing. 2) the willingness of the newspaper to play down the incident : " the eagle will be all right". 3) yet the journalist adds : "in other occasions, and there have been quite a few according to their witnesses, the birds always died." ( "En las ocasiones anteriores, y han sido bastantes según sus testimonios, las aves siempre mueren" ). But I was not able to obtain more information on these “other occasions”. As I said, opacity in Spain is extreme.
MAIMED STE (http://www.iberica2000.org/documents/eolica/bird_mortality/aguila_culebrera_herida.doc)
And another STE casualty was recorded at the Suído wind farm in Galicia :
ARTICLE AND PICTURE
WIND FARM MORTALITY - BOOTED EAGLES
(Hieraaetus pennatus or Aquila pennata)
These birds were among the casualties found by Dr Lekuona in his Navarre
windfarm mortality study. (3)
In Castellón too, evidence has surfaced of their mortality : --> Castellon ---> look for "águila calzada".
A carcass was also found in the province of Albacete killed by the power lines that link the windfarm of Carcelén to the national grid ( personal commentary ).
They are also being killed in Greece : "On 4th of July (2008) a Booted Eagle (*Hieraaetus pennatus*) was found dead collided with a turbine situated in the SPA, GR 113001, Thrace, NE Greece. The one of the bird´s wings was broken and turned over. The bird was found 35 m far from the turbine. It is estimated that the collision episode happened 5-8 days before. The Eagle was collected with the help of the Environmental Police that were invited to certify the
incident." - Source : a local ornithologist.
WIND FARM MORTALITY - WEDGE-TAILED EAGLES ("WEDGIES")
(Aquila audax )
At Starfish Hill, South Australia, 2 "wedgies" were killed practically as soon as the 26 turbines became operative. Their bodies were found by the public ; and one more carcass was reported about a year later. Another dead wedgie was found at the Codrington wind farm, Victoria. These are casual finds, not the result of systematic monitoring. So there are undoubtedly many more collisions. At Woolnorth, Tasmania, a wind farm has been partially monitored ( only 30% of its turbines ) : 20 eagle carcasses have been found over 4 years. Here is the comment of Stephen Debus, raptor specialist, PhD in zoology, University of New England :
"Smales & Muir (2005) Modelled Cumulative Impacts on the Tasmanian Wedge-tailed Eagle of Wind Farms across the Species´Range (Biosis & SymboliX report) predicted about one Wedge-tailed Eagle death per year across all of Tasmania (= seven wind farms), from collisions with wind turbines, on the basis that there was likely to be a 99% or greater avoidance rate. In practice there have been 12 eagle deaths in two years, and 20 in four years (i.e. an average of 5 per year), at the Woolnorth wind farm alone. Obviously something is wrong with the models or their inputs (e.g. the 99% avoidance assumption) if the reality is an order of magnitude above predictions. That is, there might be tens of eagle deaths per year in Tasmania, not between one and ten, if the Woolnorth mortality rate is repeated across the other six wind farms." (16).
These deaths are particularly significant because the Tasmanian Wedge-tailed Eagle is a sub-species listed as "endangered", object of the Threatened Tasmanian Eagles Recovery Plan 2006-2010, and has less than 220 pairs surviving (www.environment.gov.au). It is clear that the wind farms, added to the usual hazards ( poison, power lines, habitat loss etc. ) will drive the sub-species to extinction.
Eric Woehler, chairman of Birds Tasmania, said that the Woolnorth wind farm was acting as a "BLACK HOLE" : "It´s killing eagles that were resident and drawing more in from the surrounding areas, so it will continue to be a black hole for these birds" (17). In fact, every wind farm is black hole, or population sink : they not only kill resident birds, but others that happen to fly into the area.
Regarding the main species from continental Australia, it is at risk of being extirpated from the provinces building many wind farms : e.g. New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia. These are being built without consideration for the eagles, as close as 300 metres from their nests ( e.g. Challicum Hills windfarm ), or where there is a high activity of sub-adult birds ( e.g. Yaloak South windfarm, Victoria ). Monitoring studies paid by developers may pretend the eagles are doing fine, but they would, wouldn´t they? We´ve seen such a case in Scotland : Beinn an Tuirc ---> JUNK SCIENCE (http://www.iberica2000.org/Es/Articulo.asp?Id=3744)
Above: wedge-tailed-eagle maimed by a turbine blade at the Starfish Hill windfarm, South Australia.
More pictures here
WIND FARM MORTALITY - BONELLI´S EAGLES ("BONELLIS") -
Hieraaetus fasciatus or Aquila fasciata
GEPEC, an ornithological association from the State of Catalonia, Spain, reported the following :
- In 2005 a Bonelli´s eagle was lured with a chicken, then shot and killed at close range in an area where a windfarm promoter wanted to erect a wind farm. The body was then deposited, in a defiant act, somewhere were it would be easily found.
Two month earlier, a pair of Bonellis had disappeared in the same general area. GEPEC thinks both incidents are linked to the windfarm project.
Article in Catalan
- In 2006, the male of a pair of Bonellis has disappeared in the area of Coll de l´Alba, Catalonia, possibly killed by a wind farm in the area.
Other article in Catalan
The Bonelli is a red-listed species, object of an "EU Action Plan" and of projects financed by the LIFE Nature Fund. There are less than 800 pairs left in Europe, and they are fast disappearing. Spain is their stronghold, but 16,000 wind turbines won´t allow them to survive very long. I warned the European Commission of this danger 7 years ago, showing how the Bonelli´s Spanish habitat was being invaded by lethal wind turbines. - That didn´t change anything. The EC obviously cares more about protecting highly-ineffective, highly-subsidised yet redundant industries than it cares about protecting biodiversity.
The above statistics are far from reflecting the whole picture. Only a handful of wind farms are currently being monitored for mortality across the world. Even in those cases, searchers can only find a small portion of the total number of victims : carcasses disappear rapidly, taken away by scavengers raising families near these providential food sources. And now windfarm employees are competing with them : not for the food, but to hide the evidence.
Bird societies find it financially beneficial to support the windfarm drive. They only say nice things about the wind industry and have stopped reporting eagle and other embarrassing collision statistics. "Omerta" clauses in monitoring contracts prevent ornithologists from talking about their findings. Their reports are influenced by windfarm developers, are sometimes edited, and rarely reflect the whole truth. Wind industry agents are monitoring what is being said on ornithology forums and who says it, and whistle-blowers are expelled. A great many ornithologists are now making a living working for windfarm developers or pro-windfarm government bodies. They are not keen to see a return to leaner times when jobs were scarce.
This will lead to a number of species being brought to near-extinction levels, which will trigger more studies, captive breeding and reintroduction programmes, all of which will further benefit ornithologists and bird societies. This could last forever, as the young birds will be released into habitats transformed into minefields... It´s a hopeless situation we are getting into : this is why it should be stopped before we get there.
The management of bird societies argue that it is more important to stop global warming. But there is ample evidence that wind farms have not helped reduce CO2 emissions where they have been built in large numbers (Denmark, Germany, Spain). The intermittency and unpredictability of wind is the problem, which causes a need for back-up by fossil-fuel power plants operating at reduced-capacity, actually producing more CO2 per Kwh than they usually do. See the book "The Wind Farm Scam" by Dr Etherington. As for man-made global warming, the jury is out on the issue. If you doubt that, Google this word : "Climategate".
We said earlier that we would discuss raptors´ "attraction" to wind turbines as opposed to "avoidance". The subject of attraction has been explained and documented in our Complaint to the European Commission ---> Scottish government, European Commission guilty of ecological vandalism. (search for the word "attract"). As for avoidance, there is a misunderstanding about its meaning. Most people think it reflects the fact that birds "avoid" flying through rotor-swept areas, or even that they avoid coming near wind turbines. We have seen that this is not based on fact, as collision statistics show - in this paper and that other one Chilling Statistics
So what is the "avoidance rate" collision models talk about ?
It is a rate calculated from the comparison between flight activity in the danger zone and actual collisions. This makes it a highly-subjective parameter, as flight activity depends among other things upon the size of the area that is chosen (see "HOW THE MANIPULATION WORKS") in our Complaint ---> Scottish government, European Commission guilty of ecological vandalism.
Manipulating the avoidance parameter allows an eagle mortality prediction to drop for example from 137 to 15 ( the case of the Edinbane project in Scotland ). So the predictions are unreliable by as much as one order of magnitude or more, yet they are being used over and over again with absolute cynicism.
Mark Duchamp............................July 28 2006....presently being updated.
See also this article on bird mortality at windfarms (all species Included):
(1) - Speed at the tip of the blades : click the link, then scroll down to Section "PRELIMINARY CONSIDERATIONS ON AVIAN MORTALITY" ---> LINK (http://www.iberica2000.org/Es/Articulo.asp?Id=1875)
(2) - 2300 golden eagles killed at the Altamont Pass wind farm : Dr. Smallwood & K. Thelander, Aug. 2004, Developing Methods to Reduce Bird Mortality in the Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area - SEE CHAPTER 3, page 73, TABLE 3.11, 1ST LINE : "116.5 golden eagles p.a. adjusted for search detection and scavenging." ---> SMALLWOOD
I have kept a copy in case the report is removed from the Web. I shall send it upon request (it weighs 12 Mb).
(3) - Golden eagles killed in Navarre : Lekuona report : Critical Analysis of 4 Reports on Bird Mortality at Wind farm Sites. Mark Duchamp (2003) - SEE SECTION 1 ---> Birds and windfarms - Critical analysis of 4 reports on bird mortality at windfarm sites.
(4) - Golden eagle killed by wind farm in the province of Albacete --->ALBACETE
(5) - Windfarms slaughter vultures in Spain - Covering up the evidence.
(6) - Wind farm employees bury embarrassing evidence - DIRECTRICES PARA LA EVALUACION DEL IMPACTO DE LOS PARQUES EOLICOS EN AVES Y MURCIELAGOS - SEO/Birdlife (Dec. 2008) : ---> LINK
" Se ha podido comprobar la ocultación de cadáveres por parte de trabajadores de los parques eólicos, tal vez pensando que su puesto de trabajo dependa de las aves que mueren en el parque, disminuyendo la tasa de mortalidad obtenida en los planes de vigilancia."
Translation : " It has been ascertained that bird carcasses have been hidden by wind farm workers, thinking perhaps that their jobs depend upon the birds that die in the wind farm. This reduces the mortality observed by searchers in monitoring programmes."
(7) - 12 eagles killed by wind turbines on the island of Gotland, Sweden ---> 12 eagles killed Gotland (http://www.iberica2000.org/documents/EOLICA/BIRD_MORTALITY/12_dead_eagles_Gotland.doc)
(8) - "Risk management model of birds and a wind farm" - Shimada, Yasuo
Matsuda, Hiroyuki - Hozen Seitaigaku Kenkyu - November 2007.
Available upon request.
(9) - WIND-TURBINES-BIRDS-FORUM
(10) - Wind farms at the Smøla Archipelago - CONVENTION ON THE CONSERVATION OF EUROPEAN WILDLIFE
AND NATURAL HABITATS - Standing Committee 29th meeting Bern, 23-26 November 2009 - Published by Council of Europe, ref. T-PVS/Files (2009) 17. (files17e_2009.doc)
DOWNLOAD the report
(11) - Norwegian Institute for Nature Research - NINA Report 505 “Pre- and post-construction studies of conflicts between birds and wind turbines in coastal Norway” (Bird-Wind) Progress Report 2009.
DOWNLOAD the report
(12) - SEO/Birdlife report on Tarifa wind farms : see chapter 2 of ---> Birds and windfarms - Critical analysis of 4 reports on bird mortality at windfarm sites.
(13) - Informe De Los Impactos Ambientales De Las Centrales Electricas Eólicas En El Termino Municipal De Tarifa (Cádiz) - Comisión de Energa de AGADEN. Septiembre de 1.999 – available upon request (600 kb – written in Spanish).
(14) - MAP : "Bird Sensitivity Map to provide locational guidance for onshore wind farms in Scotland" - RSPB Research Report No 20 - June 2006. Jointly funded by the RSPB and Scottish Natural Heritage ---> MAP on page 28 of document posted here (http://www.iberica2000.org/documents/RSPB_bird_sensitivity_map_Scotland.pdf)
(15) - Bogus RSPB objection : "Shetland´s RSPB officer Pete Ellis said yesterday (Friday): "We would not object on principle, although we may have to put in a conditional objection to keep everything legal." ---> Bogus RSPB objection (http://www.iberica2000.org/documents/EOLICA/Bogus_RSPB_objection.htm)
(16) - Comment on Woolnorth eagle mortality by Stephen Debus, raptor specialist, PhD in zoology, University of New England ---> Woolnorth (http://www.iberica2000.org/documents/eolica/bird_mortality/Yaloak_South_Debus_comments.pdf)
(17) - Eric Woehler, chairman of Birds Tasmania : the Woolnorth wind farm is acting as a "black hole" ---> BLACK HOLE (http://www.iberica2000.org/documents/eolica/bird_mortality/black_hole_or_population_sink.doc)
>> Autor: Mark Duchamp (28/07/2006)
>> Fuente: Mark Duchamp
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