News
05 Mar 2019, 13:51
Benjamin Wehrmann

Migrating birds avoid wind turbines, suffer from habitat loss

Journal of Animal Ecology

Many migrating birds have learned to avoid potentially deadly wind turbines, but this behaviour equals a loss of habitat for the animals, researcher Ana Teresa Marques and others write in the Journal of Animal Ecology. “Soaring birds are among the most affected groups with alarming fatality rates by collision with wind turbines and an escalating occupation of their migratory corridors,” the researchers write. They equipped 130 migrating black kites with tracking devices to trace their travel routes at the migratory bottleneck of the Strait of Gibraltar between Spain and Morocco -- an area that is crucial for many bird species and which is also used for wind power production -- and found that the animals fly about 700 metres around the turbines, effectively reducing the area available for the birds to migrate by up to 14 percent. “Authorities should recognise this further impact of wind energy production and establish new regulations that protect soaring habitat,” the researchers write.

Wind power in Germany has seen increasing resistance in recent years not least due to its possible negative effects on wildlife. Germany's Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN) recently said that more attention had to be given to the impact of renewable power development on habitats and species. "An ecologically sound renewable roll-out is possible,” BfN president Beate Jessel said. Environmental NGO Nabu estimates about 100,000 birds in the country could be killed by rotor blades each year. To put this figure into perspective: Environmental organisation Friends of the Earth Germany (BUND) says that about 18 million birds in Germany die every year by crashing into windows.

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