Thursday, March 31, 2011

Birds, cats and turbines: in perspective

I’ve written [1, 2, 3] of the two windpower turbines being built for the community co-operative Hepburn Wind [4]. Last week the two towers and their blades were erected [5, 6, 7] on Leonards Hill [8] near Daylesford. Sweetheart Vivienne and I support windpower. So we’re Hepburn Wind members/shareholders [9] – as are all our grandchildren. But not everyone’s a windpower fan. A main objection’s birdkill. The US Fish and Wildlife Service estimates US wind turbines kill 440,000 birds per year – likely to more than double by 2030 due to more windfarms. Though 440,000’s no small number, it’s dwarfed by the number of birds killed by cats: The American Bird Conservancy [ABC] estimates cats in the US kill 500 million birds each year – half by pets and half by feral cats. Further, the Journal of Ornithology recently reported a Washington study finding cats were easily the main bird killers: nearly 80% of birds were killed by predators, with cats causing 47% of the 80% [10]. My cyberfriend Chrows25 and I have been in cyberdialogue about cats and birds [11]. The authorities (and maybe the population too) in Canada are more attuned to the problem that we are here. Which is not to belittle the extent of wind turbine birdkill. I agree with the ABC that windfarms should be ‘bird smart’, e.g. positioned to avoid major migration paths and breeding grounds; and with their powerlines buried to prevent collisions. I hope Hepburn Wind’s two turbines meet these criteria. I really do.

2 comments:

Kate said...

Have I told you that you can see the turbines from your place? I think most people I have spoken to have been surprised at their grand scale. And I've been wondering about that bird thing a lot too.

Chrows25 aka Leather Woman said...

I love the majesty of those turbines, poor birds, but birds who avoid windmills may evolve?