Birds and wind farms
Written by Mark Duchamp, President, Save the Eagles International
In an article published in The Guardian on November 7th, the RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) is quoted saying that since 1980, across 25 European countries, house sparrow numbers have declined by 147 million, a 62% drop to 90 million. According to the same report, starlings have fallen by 45 million, down to 40 million. As for Skylarks, their population went down by 37 million, to 43 million today. Says the author of the article, “It’s principally agricultural intensification that is behind the crisis.” (1)
Populations ranging from 40 to 90 million birds, for the most common of passerine species, are surprisingly small, spread as they are over 25 countries. Thus, if the researchers quoted by the RSPB are correct in their estimates, we are entitled to conclude that wind turbines and their power lines will have a significant impact on the number of all passerines flying our skies, eating our insects etc. Indeed, we know for instance that, in Spain alone, wind turbines kill 6 to 18 million birds and bats a year (2). Supposing that Europe has about 5 times as many wind turbines as Spain, the death toll for Europe would be 30 to 90 million birds and bats per annum – i.e. roughly 10 to 30 million birds a year, given that bats are attracted to wind turbines and killed about twice as often as birds. Comparing the numbers, and all things being equal, it is obvious that bird populations will erode further on account of wind farms, much faster than previously thought.
But no mention is made of this in the article. It’s not surprising, as both the RSPB and The Guardian are promoting the installation of ever more wind farms across Europe.
We also learn from The Guardian that the population of some raptors “is on the up in Britain”. This assertion sounds suspicious to us at Save the Eagles International, for two main reasons:
A) – the article quotes no figures, no studies and no dates, and
B) – we know that raptors are attracted to windfarms (2), and killed in significant numbers (3).
The truth is that raptors have been recuperating in the UK since a very low point reached after two centuries of persecution. Some species were wiped out. Then, a law was enacted to protect birds of prey, and reintroduction programmes were launched, e.g. for the Red Kite and the White-tailed Eagle.
Protection and reintroduction caused raptors’ numbers to go up. But the question is: until when? We suspect that the recuperation of raptors in Britain has stopped with the advent of wind turbines, which attract and kill them. Actually, judging from the high mortality of raptors in other countries’ windfarms, their UK population is most likely to be on the decline as well. But Britons are not being kept informed of these things, politics oblige. (4)
To wit: in 2013 became due the decadal census of golden eagles. But nothing happened, and to those who inquired it was replied that the interval between these surveys had been changed from 10 years to 12. This does nothing to allay our fears that Scottish golden eagles are being decimated by wind turbines, many of which are spinning their deadly blades in their habitat.
1) – Bird decline, The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/nov/07/bird-decline-common-species-rspb
2) – In Spain, wind turbines kill 6 to 18 million birds and bats a year: http://savetheeaglesinternational.org/releases/spanish-wind-farms-kill-6-to-18-million-birds-bats-a-year.html
3) – Circumstantial evidence of golden eagles’ population declines in California, France, Italy, Galicia (Spain) and Sweden: available upon request.
4) – Cover up of bird mortality at wind farms in the UK: