How much wind killing do we want?

Originally posted at CFACT

By David Wojick

That rapidly growing wind power development kills birds in ever increasing numbers is clear. That it also kills whales and other marine mammals is becoming clear. So the policy question is how much killing is enough, before we stop killing more? This question seems not to be asked.

The stampede to build huge amounts of wind power, on land and at sea, is potentially devastating to a great many species. Our focus has been on the growing threat to whales and other marine mammals from offshore industrial wind.

But this is just part of a much deeper pattern of runaway wind killing. For now let’s consider the indifference of the Biden Administration to land based killing of birds.

To begin with there is the golden eagle. This majestic species is the largest bird of prey in western North America, where wind development is growing rapidly. Its population is much smaller than the familiar bald eagle and may be diminishing.

The golden eagle is protected under the Eagle Act, just as the whales are under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Wind facilities require so-called “incidental take permits” for killing golden eagles issued by the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS).

Turns out there is a problem, namely the wind industry is ignoring the Eagle Law and not getting the required permits. I am not making this up. Here is how the FWS puts it:

“For golden eagles, a goal of the 2016 Eagle Rule was to increase compliance and improve consistency and efficiency relating to permitting golden eagle take at wind-energy projects. However, those goals have not been realized. While participation in the permit program by wind energy projects has increased since 2016, it still remains well below our expectations. Low application rates and permit-processing requirements that some have perceived as burdensome have resulted in few permits being issued for wind projects as compared to the number of operational wind projects in areas where golden eagles occur. As a result, golden eagles continue to be taken without implementation of conservation actions to offset that take.”

So few permits are being issued to wind projects that threaten golden eagles and there are a lot of those.

Is the Biden FWS threatening a crackdown on this wanton lawlessness? Not at all. Instead they propose to make permitting easier by making it less effective. Endless billions of dollars worth of wind projects think eagle kill permitting is too “burdensome” so the Biden bunch propose to ease up on them. Damn the eagles, full speed ahead.

In fact the FWS proposal is to do away with site specific permits and instead create a “general permit” that covers all normal wind projects. All a billion dollar project has to do is sign up and pay a tiny fee, which supposedly somehow mitigates the upcoming eagle deaths.

As part of this general permit the eagle killing is exempt from NEPA, or rather the entire project is as long as eagle killing is all they are doing. No EIS certainly speeds things up, but not in a good way for the eagles.

Also the requirement that an independent observer count the dead eagles is gone in the general permit. We will just depend on the wind facility operators (who have not been getting permits) to tell us when they have killed too many birds.

Clearly this is a huge policy move that favors wind development at the expense of the eagles. Biden said that every federal agency should do whatever it can to promote renewables and this proposal meets that test.

Beyond the eagles, which are relatively small in number, there lie the rest of the dead birds. Wind turbines are called “bird choppers” for good reason. How many birds are we talking about killing?

Interestingly there was a lot of research on this question a decade ago, when wind just started winding up, but very little today. A good example is a 2013 paper titled “Estimates of bird collision mortality at wind facilities in the contiguous United States”, Biological Conservation, Volume 168, December 2013, Pages 201-209.


They estimated about 250,000 bird deaths a year. With around 50,000 MW of installed capacity, that is roughly 5 deaths per MW per year. That is already a lot if dead birds, but it gets much worse when we look ahead at the Biden Administration’s goal of “net zero” emissions.

I recently wrote about a new Tesla analysis of the renewable power requirements for net zero. These are enormous because in addition to providing power when the sun shines and the wind blows hard, they have to make enough hydrogen to generate our juice when it doesn’t.

Tesla says we will need a whopping 2 million MW of wind capacity for net zero. At five bird deaths per MW that is an incredible 10 million deaths a year. This would be something like 300 million dead birds over the combined 30 year lives of the FWS proposed general permits.

It could be many more when the endless forest of bird choppers makes avoidance impossible. We really need some research into this horrendous prospect.

The vast majority of these dead birds will be songbirds. It is ironic that the environmental movement first took off with Carson’s “Silent Spring”, which warned about the potential extermination of songbirds. Now that we are rushing headlong into environmental industrialization it appears we have come full circle.

It is time to ask the policy question: How much wind killing do we want? Or put another way, how much is too much?

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May 11, 2023 6:15 pm

Take permits aren’t going to achieve anything, they will still kill birds, bats and whales in increasing numbers and they don’t care.

Rich Davis
Reply to  Streetcred
May 12, 2023 4:13 am

A modest proposal

In the spirit of nuclear regulatory policy, every windmill must have a containment dome consisting of a fine-mesh screen with openings no larger than half the radius of a gnat. That way all insects, bats, and birds will be prevented from reaching the deadly blades.

Now I didn’t calculate the effect on windspeed at the turbine, but if they can’t do this safely, don’t complain to me about the cost!

Reply to  Rich Davis
May 12, 2023 6:48 am

Mash screen would not protect whales.

Rich Davis
Reply to  Someone
May 12, 2023 11:16 am

Maybe we need to also put some kind of governor on them to limit rotation speed to once an hour so that infrasound isn’t a factor? Safety first!

Tom Halla
May 11, 2023 6:20 pm

Green prayer wheels also kill bats. The greens are more anti-technology/anti-capitalist than people who care about nature.

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Tom Halla
May 11, 2023 7:12 pm

They’re very open about the anti-capitalism part. Not a secret at all.

Steve Case
May 11, 2023 7:23 pm

Time for this one:

Bird Chopper.png
Ron Long
May 11, 2023 7:58 pm

Good review of the disgusting reality of “green” energy. I have previously commented about viewing dead birds along a line of windmills, just NE of Casper’ Wyoming. I encourage anyone interested in the topic to walk along one of these windmills.

David Wojick
Reply to  Ron Long
May 12, 2023 10:36 am

Yes I think the claim that only a few birds a year per chopper are killed is wildly low, espbecially for small birds..

ethical voter
May 11, 2023 8:32 pm

As the choppers proliferate and the insect, bird, bat and whale populations decline so will the kill rate. Problem solved.

Rich Davis
Reply to  ethical voter
May 12, 2023 3:45 am

Die Endlösung

David Wojick
Reply to  ethical voter
May 12, 2023 10:37 am

Extinction is the ultimate solution! Sarc

May 11, 2023 9:00 pm

Sure, but the number of birds dying each year will drop as each species is extinguished, and we are Saving the Planet, after all….

Of course, if an oil spill kills birds we promise to get really angry!

May 11, 2023 9:15 pm

Golden Eagles? Good riddance to those lamb-killing bastards!

Don Perry
Reply to  FarmerBrett
May 12, 2023 4:20 pm

Well, “Farmer Brett”, if you raise lambs for food, how does that not make you also a “lamb-killing bastard”?

May 11, 2023 10:07 pm

It really sucks when you buy a small acreage for the stunning vista and variety of native birds and wildlife, then your government turns it into a Renewable Energy Zone. We are up to more than 32 wind and solar projects so far in the planning stages in our region and the number of wind turbines at this point is up to 800. A project close by will have 69 turbines each at 7MW and standing at 280m high and 200m wide. This project is also installing 500MW of solar with BESS, two substations and 11 kilometres of its own transmission lines. This project will utilise 90 square kilometres of agricultural land.

There have been 19 endangered species of birds identified in the region as well as endangered bats and Koalas. All the developers have to do is purchase certificates and they will be absolved of any responsibility for the loss of these creatures. Senseless slaughter. That doesn’t even take into consideration the parrots, waterbirds, more common birds of prey and a myriad of other species that fly in this valley, or the native wildlife that will be displaced or destroyed during the build.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  megs
May 12, 2023 4:29 am

It really is insane.

I guess they are going to push it until everything crashes and burns.

Reply to  Tom Abbott
May 12, 2023 8:32 am

push it until everything crashes and burns.

That appears to be the intent.

Bill Toland
May 11, 2023 10:59 pm

The article grossly understates the death toll which wind turbines exact on avian life. The average wind turbine kills 500 birds and bats each year. Since the USA has 70 thousand wind turbines, the death toll in the USA alone is 35 million a year.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Bill Toland
May 12, 2023 5:10 am

we need to estimate how many birds will be sacrificed by wind turbines once America reaches net zero nirvana

of course covering millions of acres with solar “farms” also has a huge wildlife cost

David Blenkinsop
Reply to  Bill Toland
May 12, 2023 8:54 am

So, *more than* 10 million bird k!lls per year right now, and 100’s of millions per year as the cost of Net Zero.

David Wojick
Reply to  Bill Toland
May 12, 2023 10:42 am

Thanks Bill! I thought the 5 kills/MW/year was wildly low.

May 11, 2023 11:13 pm

They estimated about 250,000 bird deaths a year. 

Just imagine how many birds would face the chopper, if the wind turbines could manage to work 100% of the time 24/7/365 instead of the paltry 30% every now and then when conditions are perfect.

Bill Toland
Reply to  Redge
May 11, 2023 11:46 pm

This link shows bird mortality per turbine in various countries.
Spain: 333-1000 birds/bats per year
Germany: 309 birds per year.
Sweden: 895 birds per year.

The figure of 250,000 bird deaths a year in the USA is off by two orders of magnitude.

David Wojick
Reply to  Bill Toland
May 12, 2023 10:47 am

The 250,000 total was from ten years ago, but your numbers show the per MW kill rate is also extremely low.

David Wojick
Reply to  Redge
May 12, 2023 10:45 am

Unfortunately the choppers run most of the time. The low capacity factor is because they seldom produce full power, which requires sustained wind over 30 mph, a rarity. But they spin and chop given just 8 mph.

May 12, 2023 12:03 am

Once we were poor, and we had to destroy nature in order to live.

Then we grew rich, and realised that it was our moral duty to preserve wild places and the beautiful majestic creatures that lived in them.

Then we grew stupid, and destroyed nature again with machines that strained a small amount of energy from the air, when there were alternatives that caused no harm.

Right-Handed Shark
May 12, 2023 12:26 am

Not the first time I have posted this, but insects seem to get routinely overlooked:

Who needs pollinators anyway?

May 12, 2023 12:49 am

Raptors (eagles, hawks etc.) are opportunistic hunters and prefer to perch on some tall object and wait for some prey animal to enter their field of vision. The problem is they perceive tall structures such as windmills and solar towers as such ideal perches without realising the danger.

Raptors have even made wind turbine motor housings a nesting site – when raptors take off they do so into the wind – since the turbine is also automatically turned to face the wind, nesting and perching raptors tend to take off through the rotating blades.

If you zoom in to the image of Cresent Dunes Tonopah :-'18.5%22N+117%C2%B021'48.4%22W/@38.2387599,-117.3650323,1756m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x0:0x0!8m2!3d38.2384667!4d-117.3634528

You can see the air on the sun-side of the solar collector is glowing red hot – any bird flying through this zone literally ignites – they call them “streamers”.

Mentioned in the video is the term “megatrap” in regards to the multiplication effect of attracting insects to the bright lights which causes a knock-on attraction up the food chain.

The above link has several links to various scientific studies on the subject.

There also appears to be a “multiplier effect” in that insects are attracted to the mirrors of solar arrays – also mistaking the polarised reflected light as water – this in turn attracts insectivorous birds which then also attracts raptors.

Alarmists counter that the percentage area occupied by wind and solar is relatively small and therefore so too will be avian mortality rates. (See later – we might cover the Earth with wind and solar generation and still fail to meet demand – so this is a somewhat specious argument.)

Alarmists also like informing us that domestic cats kill millions of birds – true but all are small like sparrows, tits, blue jays etc. etc. Cats do not kill large birds like bald eagles and condors (almost all such large raptors are on the endangered list and all a vulnerable to predation by wind turbines).

Such large raptors frequently actually kill cats.

However the “relatively small area” argument ignores the above multiplier effect and the fact that the mortality rate creates an ecological “hole” which sucks in birds into regions apparently less densely populated with competitors – again without realising the dangerous nature of the new habitat.

A German study found that German wind turbines were killing 3600 Tonnes of flying insects per year – estimated to be 5% of all flying insects (in Germany) – that has got to have some significant effect on the ecology.

A little known fact about wind turbine operation is that the blades have to be cleaned once or even twice a year to remove the accumulated crust of dead insects which can reduce turbine efficiency by 10% (think what your windshield would look like if you drove 12 hours per day at over 160kmh and you didn’t clean it for six months ?).

The dead insects that make it to the ground also attract scavengers all the way up the food chain to the raptors attracted by rats and mice etc.

Wind turbines pose greater risks to larger birds as they are a bigger target and the probability of collision increases to somewhere between the square and the cube of the increase in size. If a bird is “double” the size of another, it is twice as wide, twice as long (a 4 times bigger target at transection with turbine) and possibly flying (gliding / cruising for raptors) at half the speed thus doubling its target time per unit length might take us up to 8 times (the cube) greater risk of collision. Large birds are extremely vulnerable to wind turbines.

The problem with bats is even more severe as they have evolved (as flying mammals) fairly flimsy lungs.

Of dead bats collected around wind turbines slightly more than 50% died from barotrauma (sudden change in air pressure close to the turbine blades caused their lungs to rupture) showing no evidence of actually being struck by the blades themselves. Over 90% of all dead bats exhibited barotrauma although clearly about half of those had also been struck by the blades – contusions, broken bones etc. typical of blunt force trauma – but more than 50% – not a mark on them – they simply flew too close and their lungs ruptured.

See the following infrared video of typical bat behaviour around a wind-turbine – including curiosity touch and go exploration of the object (tower and stationary blade) as well as bats falling out of the sky without being actually hit (barotrauma) and of course direct strikes.

Scientists are also concerned why bats – which have excellent echo location sonar and should have no problem identifying a moving turbine blade – seem to be attracted to them.

One suggestion is that from a distance the wing tip vortices created by the blades may be mistaken by the bats for a swirling cloud of insects – or a rather attractive dinner.

Similarly large soaring raptors can be seen to “suicidally” circle wind turbines for no apparent reason. Again it is thought that the raptors pick up on the wingtip vortices and cruise around in them looking for a free “lift” as they do for thermals. Clearly seen in the video link below…..

Raptors wingtip feathers “sense” rising and falling airflow (like a glider’s variometer instrument informs the pilot) it does not consider the turbine to be the cause nor does the bird consider it in any way dangerous. It is simply responding to millions of years of evolution dancing through the turbulence.

It is quite possible that raptors intercept these “false thermals” and unintentionally “surf” them to their doom.

Glider pilots will tell you they share the airspace with soaring birds (modern gliders have better “sink” rates than birds) and you can watch them adjust their flight to remain in the thermal and the glider pilot following his variometer finds himself flying the same course as the birds.

A soaring bird crossing the downwind vortex trail would, on exiting an area of lift will turn back in to it and on subsequent crossings reverse the direction of turn – by this navigation method it zig zags or circles up towards the turbine. Once the bird passes the turbine it turns once again to find the “thermal” it was using. This then becomes the “suicidal” behaviour we see.

Clearly the fatal footprint of a wind turbine is very much larger that the physical space it occupies.

It has recently been discovered that birds flying in typical “V” formations do so for reasons of energy conservation – stealing a little bit of lift from the wing vortices of the bird diagonally ahead – this behaviour was previously thought to be a line of sight issue.

This behaviour is typical for large migratory bird species – also at risk from the presence of wind turbines.

Migratory birds travelling over water typically adjust their flight paths to fly over islands to gain the benefit of any thermal lift. An offshore wind turbine would look like a tree to a bird, which obviously must be supported by an “island” – so they adjust their flight path – through the rotating turbine which in most cases are large enough to transect the typical flight altitude of migratory birds. Again birds adopt these altitudes to best make use of thermals and conserve energy.

The above behaviour patterns explain the disproportionate mortality for larger birds, particularly large soaring birds like raptors and migratory species.

Because these are “Eco-friendly” projects the environmental impact study is either glossed over or by-passed completely in spite of the fact that a typical wind farm involves a hundred of these intrusive towers each with a 2500-3500 Ton foundation, about a kilometre of road per tower and extensive power grids.

A great number of wind and solar projects have in fact been built in “Bio-diversity” and “Wildlife Sanctuary’s” – where no building is normally allowed – see the following link :-

It looks like environmentalists are starting to wake up to the fact that wind and solar are in no way “Eco-Friendly” !

Wind Turbines are an existential threat to birds & bats (even the endangered ones – seems they don’t differentiate) are noisy (infrasound), generate annoying “light flicker” and universally detested by the neighbours. Property values diminish with the presence of wind farms.

Wind power is endangering species that have survived numerous ice ages, sea level changes etc – Global Warming (even if real) poses no threat to them – Wind Turbines are positively lethal – refer the following link that suggest that environmentalists are in a state of denial over this inconvenient truth. 

This by an Oxford professor of ornithology and an expert on species extinction.

Refer to the following article in which windpower companies are using bird mortality figures and sampling guidelines for 50-60m high wind turbines on 100-130m wind turbines in order to “gloss over” the damage being done to bird (and particularly raptor) populations. They also indulge in wishful thinking such as 30 day periods between surveys when they know from other studies that most carcasses are removed by scavengers within 10 days thus underreporting avian mortalities by anywhere from 2 to 10 times the real values.

The Irish Sea is festooned with offshore wind farms and sea bird numbers have fallen drastically – the greens are in denial and are trying desperately to find some other plausible cause – preferably finding some way of blaming man/climate change as the cause.

Admittedly causality remains unproven but a drop of 50 to 80% in some seabird populations, concomitant with the growth in offshore wind farms, is certainly alarming.

It is impossible to determine mortality rates caused by offshore wind turbines as carcasses are simply lost to the sea. I’m sure they could study it if they tried but I suspect lack of motivation to go looking for evidence that runs counter to their belief system / narrative.

There is also strongly correlated evidence – again lacking proof of causality – that wind turbines are damaging to whale populations :-

It is also not clear (other than speculation) as to why this should be so – but is nonetheless cause for grave concern.

Reply to  Chasmsteed
May 12, 2023 8:02 am

Thank You!

Reply to  Chasmsteed
May 12, 2023 9:26 am

This merits upgrading to its own article.

Very well done.

David Wojick
Reply to  Chasmsteed
May 12, 2023 10:55 am

Great stuff, Chasm. The whale kill causality is simple. NOAA actually estimates the number “harassed” by unsafe noise and fleeing that forces them into heavy ship traffic. If you throw a firecracker at a dog and it runs into traffic and is killed the car killed the dog but the firecracker caused the death. Harassment kills whales.

May 12, 2023 2:32 am

It’d be bad if the roads got slippery or contractors stopped using bird-proof glass because they think they can get away with it.

Rich Davis
May 12, 2023 3:55 am

Where’s Nick, Rusty, or mosh to inform us that housecats k!ll more birds than windmills? Once we realize that important “fact”, we naturally understand that it’s perfectly fine. And also that an eagle, a condor, a sparrow, all are interchangeable—just a bird.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Rich Davis
May 12, 2023 5:14 am

but for the world to arrive at net zero we’ll need hundreds of times more windmills- so then what excuse will the alarmist defenders use?

Rich Davis
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
May 12, 2023 5:28 am

“Look! A squirrel!”

(Ask Nick, the master of distraction. I’m sure he has a plan).

Rick C
Reply to  Rich Davis
May 12, 2023 10:20 am

We have a cat and he is indeed quite a proficient hunter. He gets maybe 2-3 birds a week, many of them hit a window. He also kills mice, shrews, moles and gophers. “Good Kitty.” Now that said we buy and feed about 2000 pounds of bird food per year and attract over 60 specifies of birds. They obviously breed in the area and are prolific as they have an easy dependable food supply. I’m quite sure that their reproduction rates vastly exceed the cat’s kill rate. By the way he rarely gets any of the more desirable (pretty) birds. Most are chickadees, sparrows, junkos and an occasional black bird. Obviously the cat’s success is highly related the the massive number of birds attracted to our feeders. I just wish he was big enough to get the squirrels.

Tom Abbott
May 12, 2023 4:25 am

From the article: “So few permits are being issued to wind projects that threaten golden eagles and there are a lot of those.”

That sounds like grounds for a lot of lawsuits against the Windmill companies and the federal government. They should obey the law, just like everyone else has to do.

May 12, 2023 6:00 am

How about the bees? A lot of people worry about the bees. Anyone know of any NA or EU studies done?

AGW is Not Science
May 12, 2023 6:05 am

The environmental destruction permitted in the government’s zeal to promote worse-than-useless wind power should be used to steamroll through eco-lawfare attempts to block or delay construction of useful power and energy infrastructure.

If it’s OK to slaughter endangered species to build windmills, the same should apply to any supposed “impacts” on some unheard of species supposedly threatened by a fossil fuel facility that unlike the worse-than-useless windmills will provide reliable 24/7 power generation.

Last edited 24 days ago by AGW is Not Science
Andy Pattullo
May 12, 2023 8:00 am

Biden is protecting golden eagles….. from growing old.
Biden is protecting whales……. from having a natural death.
Biden is protecting Americans…. from knowing the vast extent of his family’s fraud and corruption.
If Biden tells you he is protecting children, you better check what he has in his sandwich.

Bryan A
Reply to  Andy Pattullo
May 12, 2023 10:18 am

Now now now, Biden is definitely protecting children, especially for their Scratch and Sniff value

Gunga Din
Reply to  Bryan A
May 12, 2023 2:51 pm

I haven’t heard “Creepy Joe” for awhile.
Maybe because “Let’s Go Brandon” is more “inclusive”?

Kit P
May 12, 2023 10:33 am

100% That is how much killing I want. Ever try training a bird to not shit all over the place?

Right now I am smack dab in the middle between two wind farms. Bird shit all over the place but that is how it was before any turbines.

100% of living thing die. It is hard to have an adult conversation about death. If the word ‘killing’ is used you have the emotional maturity of a 12 year old.

For example, I read about covid killing people. I checked and killed covid 0%. For example, 5000 sailors were exposed covid on an aircraft carrier.

One master chief died. How much longer would he have lived with his heart condition?

Th have an adult conversation you have to know how to divide and know what life expectancy is. For example, 75 % of covid patients in the ER over 70 years old, recovered. Of course some fear monger will do a study that says 95% of the survivors will die with 20 years.

David W has an agenda and uses fear monger to promote it.

May 12, 2023 11:39 am

Raptor Rippers, Bat Bashers, Whale Whompers, Birdie Blenders, Owl Foulers, Feather Weather, Sky Scythes, Blades of Gory,..

We should have a contest.

Rich Davis
Reply to  Giving_Cat
May 12, 2023 1:23 pm

You’ve taken all the good ones.

Rich Davis
Reply to  Giving_Cat
May 12, 2023 2:42 pm

Albatross Annihilators
Barn owl Bludgeons
Condor Crushers
Dove Devourers
Eagle Eviscerators
Falcon Finishers
Grouse Graters
Hawk Hammerers
Insect Interceptors
Jay Juicers
Kite K!llers
Lark Lacerators
Midge Mincers
Nightingale Nought-makers
Osprey Obliterators
Peregrine Parsers
Quail Quieters
Raptor Ribbonizers
Seagull Shredders
Turtledove Terminators
Upland buzzard Upender
Vulture Vaulters
Whippoorwill Wallopers
Xerxes butterfly Xterminators
Yellowjacket Yuckmakers
Zebra finch Zeroers

Gunga Din
May 12, 2023 2:45 pm

Eventually the Golden Eagle won’t be swatted out the sky by pinwheels.
There won’t be any left to kill.

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