HiDef’s colleagues at BioConsult SH have just published some significant research regarding the interaction between birds and wind turbine collisions which is likely to help shape future decision making and impact assessment.
The BioConsult SH research focusses on birds that migrate at night, and in particularly smaller birds such as warblers, thrushes (such as redwings) and starlings. This group of birds are vulnerable to collision with manmade structures such as buildings, towers or offshore platforms, and this had led to novel initiatives to try and alleviate the problem, such as Safe Wings Ottawa in the Canadian capital. Even as far back as 1882 man-made objects, in this instance a particular lighthouse in New York, were found to attract diurnal migrants to their death and scores of carcasses were found each morning.
However, to date, information with respect to wind farms has been limited. The BioConsult SH team recorded bird flight intensities using radar during the autumn migration at four wind farms within a major migration flyway in northern Germany, while simultaneously conducting systematic searches for collision fatalities at the same locations. The BioConsult SH study showed that migration traffic rates at rotor height estimated by radar observations were significantly higher during the night, yet strictly nocturnal migrants constituted only 8.6% of all recorded fatalities at the wind farms.
In contrast to the situation at other man made vertical structures, nocturnal migrants do not statistically have a higher risk of collision with wind energy facilities than day time active species. The evidence suggests that somehow night migrants appear to circumvent collision more effectively. Perhaps they have evolved to become more aware and use extra senses as they migrate at night?
It will take further research to determine the exact reasons, but this study is a great leap forward and provides greater certainty for developers, statutory advisers and decision makers alike.
Follow the link here to find out more.